The James Beard Foundation announced on Wednesday the semifinalists for its yearly awards, one of the most prestigious culinary honors in the country, with 10 Maine chefs and eateries making the list.
Among the newcomers to a list that regularly includes eateries in Portland are a restaurant in the Piscataquis County town of Monson and a chef in the Androscoggin County town of Lisbon Falls — a first for both towns and counties.
The Quarry, a fine dining restaurant operating out of a storefront off Route 6 in Monson, was nominated for Outstanding Hospitality, a category that recognizes excellence in front-of-house service. Chef Marilu Ranta, a native of the Philippines and a graduate of the Eastern Maine Community College culinary arts program in Bangor, opened the restaurant in 2018, in collaboration with the Monson Arts program.
In Lisbon Falls, Flux, a modern American restaurant, was honored with a semifinal nomination for Best Chef Northeast for chef Jason LaVerdiere. Four other Maine chefs were also nominated for Best Chef Northeast, including Sara Jenkins from Nina June in Rockport; Courtney Loreg from Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland; Tony Pastor from Fore Street in Portland; and Isaul Perez from Isa in Portland.
Krista Cole of Sur Lie and Gather, both in Portland, received two nominations, in the Outstanding Hospitality category, and in the Outstanding Restaurateur category — the latter a national category that pits Cole against heavy hitters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
For Best New Restaurant, Wolfpeach, which bills itself as a chophouse and opened in December 2021, received the sole Maine nomination in the category.
Rounding out the Maine nominees are Atsuki Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery in Portland, who was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, and The Jewel Box in Portland, nominated for Outstanding Bar.
The final nominees will be listed on Wednesday, March 29, and the winners will be announced in a ceremony on June 5.