Eventide Oyster Co. gets James Beard nod second year in a row

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Chefs Andrew Taylor left and Mike Wiley share the nomination for Eventide Oyster Co.

It just got harder to get into Eventide Oyster Co. Finalists in the world series of dining were announced Tuesday, and chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland are up for best chef Northeast for the second year in a row. Is this unusual?

“Not really,” said Taylor reached at the Middle Street oyster bar. “Mark and Clark were nominated for several years before they got the award.”

Mark Gaier and Clark Fraiser, the owners of Qgunquit’s Arrows went on to publish cookbooks and open a splashy Boston restaurant after their 2010 Beard win. Are Wiley and Taylor Maine’s new Mark and Clark? Time will tell.

“We are psyched,” said Taylor. “It’s gratifying to be nominated.”

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The pair, who both started in the kitchen at Hugo’s, will vie for the honor alongside chef Brian Hill of Francine Bistro in Camden. Hill is the only other Maine chef to advance from the semifinalist round, announced in February. The full list of nominees is here.

Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Company is also a finalist for outstanding wine, beer, or spirits professional. Tod, whose sophisticated Belgian beer has moved aggressively into markets across the state has never made it this far. Is this the year “The Tod Father” receives a medal?

Hill will try for the seventh time for Beard gold. And Taylor, who trained for a stint in his kitchen, was as tickled for his mentor as he was for himself.

“It’s amazing I am so happy for Brian Hill,” said Taylor. “Francine is the first place I staged at and had a great time. I am thrilled.”

Though Eventide has been breaking boundaries (and endless shells) since it opened in 2012, Taylor extended praise to the trio of restaurants flanking each other on Middle Street (Hugo’s and The Honeypaw) in the same restaurant company.

“It’s a great group here. We are happy, not just for Eventide, it’s for our accomplishments. Me and Mike, all the chefs and managers,” said Taylor. “It speaks to the fact that we are doing something right.”

As if the turquoise bar with glistening mollusks on ice, brown butter lobster rolls, fried oyster buns and a cascade of locals and tourists bellying up to the bar, needed another reason to rage.

Awards are announced May 2 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

 

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.