Nine Maine chefs and two restaurants were nominated as semifinalists for the 2011 James Beard Awards, the James Beard Foundation announced Thursday.

Fore Street in Portland, operated by 2004 Best Chef Northeast winner Sam Hayward, was nominated for Outstanding Restaurant, a nationwide honor. In the Best New Restaurant category, Shepherd’s Pie in Rockport was nominated, honoring the gastro-pub that was opened in 2010 by Brian Hill, also chef at Francine Bistro in Camden.

In the Outstanding Chef category, Sam Hayward of Fore Street again was nominated, along with Melissa Kelly of Rockland’s Primo. Both previously have been nominated in this category.

In the Best Chef Northeast category, two Portland chefs, one Camden chef and a quartet of Belfast chefs were nominated. Demos Regas of acclaimed Greek restaurant Emilitsa, located on Congress Street in Portland, was nominated, as was Krista Kern Desjarlais of French bistro Bresca, also in Portland. Brian Hill was nominated for his work at Francine Bistro in Camden, and Megan Chase, Penny Chase, Phoebe Chase and Ted LaFage, all of vegetarian, farm-to-table restaurant Chase’s Daily in Belfast, were all nominated.

The James Beard Awards have been presented since 1990 and are called the “Oscars of the food world.” The awards, given out in May, honor the finest chefs, restaurants, wine professionals, journalists, cookbook authors, restaurant designers and electronic media professionals in the country. For the past two years, Maine chefs have won in the Best Chef Northeast category, including Rob Evans of Hugo’s in Portland in 2009, and Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows in Ogunquit in 2010.

For information on the awards, visit

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.