Owners Birch Shambaugh (from left) and Fayth Preyer stand with executive chef Courtney Loreg at busy Woodfords Corner in Portland. Loreg is named as a semifinalist in the 2022 James Beard Foundation Awards. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The James Beard Foundation, a New York-based culinary arts nonprofit organization, has announced its semifinalists for the awards it will distribute for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ten of those semifinalists are from Maine based restaurants, with eight from Portland and two from Biddeford, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Nominated in the best chef of the Northeast category was Bowman Brown of Biddeford’s Elda, along with Ben Jackson of Magnus on Water, also located in Biddeford.

Also nominated in the best Northeast chef category were Vien Doubi of Cong Tu Bot, Damian Sansonetti of Chaval and Courtney Loreg of Woodford Food and Beverage, all located in Portland.

Doubi was a semifinalist in the same category during the 2020 awards.

Portland’s Leeward, located on Free Street, has been nominated in the best new restaurant category. The restaurant’s pastry chef, Kate Fisher Hamm, has been nominated for an award in the outstanding pastry chef category.

Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery was nominated for outstanding baker, while BaoBao Dumpling House was nominated for an award for outstanding hospitality.

The Jewel Box, also a Portland establishment, was nominated for outstanding bar program award.

The chef and restaurant finalists will be announced on March 16, and the winners will be recognized on June 13 at a ceremony in Chicago.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.