UPDATED: Camden chef Brian Hill named 2016 James Beard Best Chef-Northeast nominee

Posted:  Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 2:30pm
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NEW YORK CITY — The James Beard Foundation Tuesday afternoon released its 2016 James Beard Award nominees, and one of three Midcoast chefs named earlier as semifinalists remains in the running.

Brian Hill, chef/owner of Francine Bistro in Camden, is now one of just five New England chefs vying for the title of Best Chef-Northeast.

Hill had been named a semifinalist for the award along with fellow local chefs Erin French of Lost Kitchen in Freedom and Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland.

The other Best Chef-Northeast nominees announced Tuesday include:

Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor
• Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, Maine

Karen Akunowicz
• Myers + Chang, Boston, Mass.

Susan Regis
• Shepard, Cambridge, Mass.

Zak Pelaccio
• Fish & Game, Hudson, N.Y.

Nominated from Maine in the category of Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional was Rob Tod of Allegash Brewing Co. in Portland. He is competing against four others hailing from Delaware, New Mexico, California and Kentucky.

Nominated in the Podcast category was Cushing native Tina Antolini, host of Gravy. Producer: Tina Antolini for the Southern Foodways Alliance, airs on: southernfoodways.org/gravy.

The James Beard Awards Gala, with a reception immediately following, will take place on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the Gala, which is open to the public, awards for Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards, including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America and America's Classics.

• Complete list of 2016 James Beard Award Nominees.


NEW YORK CITY — If you’ve ever wondered where to go for some of the best food in the Midcoast, you might consider letting the folks at the James Beard Foundation be your guide. And for those who already dine at Francine, Lost Kitchen and/or Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, the announcement that the chef/owners of these three restaurants have been named as finalists for best chef-northeast honors won’t be much of a surprise.

The James Beard Foundation today released the semifinalist names for its 2016 awards, and among the eight Maine restaurants and individuals included in the list, three “Best Chef” nominees hail from the Midcoast.

Brian Hill, chef/owner of Francine in Camden, has been named a semifinalist again for Best Chef-Northeast. Hill confirmed that this is the seventh time he has made it to the semifinals for the prestigious award.

He is joined this year by fellow local chefs Erin French of Lost Kitchen in Freedom and Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki's Sushi Bar in Rockland.

Also named as nominees from Maine:

National Honors:
Best New Restaurant
The Honey Paw, Portland

Outstanding Restaurant
Fore Street, Portland

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional
Rob Tod - Allagash Brewing Company, Portland

Rising Star of the Year
Cara Stadler - Tao Yuan, Brunswick

Regional Honors:
Best Chef, Northeast
Erin French - Lost Kitchen, Freedom
Brian Hill - Francine, Camden
Keiko Suzuki Steinberger - Suzuki's Sushi Bar, Rockland
Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor - Eventide Oyster Co., Portland

According to its website, the James Beard Foundation Awards process begins in October with an open call online, where anyone can submit up to two entries per category. This year, the Foundation received about 20,000 submissions, and the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee, composed of critics, writers and editors went to work and produced the list of semifinalists. That list, for each award, was culled from the open call, and committee suggestions.

The list then moves on to a voting body of former James Beard Award winners, Restaurant and Chef Award Committee members and other regional panelists. Tallying the judges' votes, the five semifinalists with the highest number of votes in each category advance to become the nominees.

The finalist nominees will be announced Tuesday March, 15. Also announced that day will be the finalist nominees for Book, Broadcast Media, Journalism and Restaurant Design awards.

The 2016 James Beard Award nominee announcement event will be held in San Francisco at the Presidio Officers' Club, and will feature a menu by Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins. The event will begin at noon (EST) / 9 a.m. (PST).

The nominees will be Tweeted live on Twitter: @beardfoundation.

The 2016 Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards will be held Tuesday, April 26 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. The James Beard Awards Gala, with a reception immediately following, will take place on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the Gala, which is open to the public, awards for Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards, including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America and America's Classics.

A complete list of 2016 Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists can be viewed here.

Related stories:

Rockland restaurateur named 2013 James Beard 'Best Chef: Northeast'
Rockland, Camden chefs make James Beard award semifinalist list