Accolades Continue for this Self-trained Maine Chef
“Eating,” says chef Rob Evans, is what interested him in cooking. The Southboro, Mass. native—nominated as the Best Chef in the Northeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2007 and 2009, and named Best New Chef in the U.S. by Food and Wine Magazine in 2004—never went to cooking school and trained to be an electrician. “But I got bored with electrical wiring and with parents who both came from Newfoundland, I always had a strong passion for fish…My love of eating turned into a love of cooking.”
At Hugo’s, Fresh Seafood is a Favorite
After working at several prestigious restaurants, including The French Laundry and The Inn at Little Washington, Evans opened Hugo’s in 2000 in Portland. Why Maine? He was inspired by the quality of local ingredients, especially the impeccably fresh seafood, “and the change of seasons keeps you on your toes.”
Evans says his cuisine is designed “to let people experience familiar flavors in new ways.” You may have tasted cod before, but what about cod tongue? or his playful version of tater tots? or flavor pops? Fun is always on the menu at Hugo’s, and if the cuisine seems eccentric, the ambiance is not. It’s a modest building on Middle Street with warm, unpretentious décor and a wait staff dressed in jeans.
To sample one of his favorite dishes, Evans suggests trying the beet risotto with goat cheese, pink grapefruit, mint and tarragon; or something from the bar menu, which includes imaginative items such as maple-glazed pork belly or quail and rabbit ballotine, as well as “some snacks I’ve invented, á la carte.”