At 27, when most millennials are just finding their footing, Cara Stadler is collecting accolades left, right and center. This week Conde Nast Traveler names the Brunswick and Portland chef one of 10 young chefs to watch. Not in New England, not in the nation. Globally. She joins contemporaries in Berlin, Paris, Chicago, Manhattan’s Lower East Side. All under 30.
The magazine selected these “rising stars” who “follow their own tastes and instincts,” have leadership style, a point of view and “talent sharp enough to have been noticed.” And I would add in Stadler’s case: a refreshing sense of manners and grace.
The Maine food intelligentsia have been watching her for years. With a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef Award nomination and Food & Wine Best New Chef nod, I am still surprised you can waltz into Tao Yuan in Brunswick or Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland and grab a seat.
“The kitchen is my jam,” Stadler told the magazine. And it shows.
What did they love? “Her turmeric-poached halibut with nam prik pao ratatouille is the best expression of Stadler’s unique DNA: French technique honed at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Asian flavors, beautiful Maine product.”
Sounds like this out-of-town writer may have actually visited the Pine Tree State for this one. Here’s how they picked the top 10.
The piece confirmed what we learned last fall, Stadler is planning an aquaponic greenhouse in partnership with a local nonprofit. Next to Tao Yuan she hopes to harvest fish and grow vegetables via solar power year round. You can’t get any fresher, with food miles calculated in steps.
“There are a tremendous amount of talented young chefs out there right now,” she says of her Best Young Chef class, “and as we’re growing in number, we’re thinking about changing our work places and and the environments we create as well as how we source our food and its impact on the environment.”