Throughout the day, Grub Street will post its predictions for tonight’s James Beard Awards. Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees.
Best Chef: Northeast
“Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Each candidate may be employed by any kind of dining establishment and must have been a working chef for at least the past 5 years. The 3 most recent years must have been spent in the region where the chef is presently working.”
Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, Arrows, Ogunquit, ME
For Them: This is Frasier & Gaier’s sixth nomination without a win, so momentum is on their side. The chefs were way ahead of the locavorism curve and, though Arrows has been open for 22 years and isn’t as buzzy as it once was, it’s still much beloved, named as one of Southern Maine’s best restaurants by Food & Wine just last year.
Against Them: While there is a sense that Frasier and Gaier’s time has come, they definitely don’t have the buzz that Tony Maws does right now.
Peter X. Kelly, Xaviars at Piermont, Piermont, NY
For Him: Kelly is clearly a successful restaurateur with four well-received Westchester restaurants under his belt (the others are Restaurant X, Freelance Cafe, and X20). The New York Times once referred to him as “one of the most revered chefs in Westchester County.”
Against Him: That was in 2007 and there’s been precious little buzz since.
Michael Leviton, Lumiere, Newton, MA
For Him: This is Leviton’s sixth nomination, so he too has some momentum going into this. The theme of this year’s Beard Awards is The Legacy Continues and Leviton is well known as a mentor to important Boston chefs like Hungry Mother’s Barry Maiden.
Against Him: In a lot of ways, Leviton is in the same boat as Frasier and Gaier: all locavore chefs, all six-time nominees. Frasier and Gaier, however, have even more time on their side, since Arrows opened in 1988 to Lumiere’s 1999.
Tony Maws, Craigie On Main, Cambridge, MA
For Him: No one else has buzz like Maws does this year. Craigie was named as one of GQ’s ten best restaurants of 2009, one of Bon Appetit’s top ten brunches, and won raves from all the major Boston papers.
Against Him: This is only the second nomination for Maws and voters could decide it’s Frasier and Gaier’s year.
Marc Orfaly, Pigalle, Boston, MA
For Him: Like so many of the other nominees, this is Orfaly’s sixth nomination. Just last week, LA mega-chef Suzanne Goin extravagantly praised Pigalle’s vongole.
Against Him: When Orfaly was named on the Beards longlist, Boston Globe critic Devra First tweeted: “All due respect to Marc Orfaly, but dude is always on there. What’s that about?” This sentiment was echoed by several Boston restaurant insiders we spoke to.
Grub Street Predicts: Tony Maws
The Arrows team, Leviton, and Orfaly might have time on their side, but Maws has the buzz.