James Beard Award Winner and Lauded Maine Chef
Sam Hayward, who won the James Beard award as the Northeast’s best chef in 2004, describes his cooking style as “…unembellishment. We buy the best raw materials we can and mess with them as little as possible. You could call it ‘naked food’—so the cooking technique and the seasoning have to be perfect.”
Hayward says he’s often skeptical about new cooking innovations. “But I’m never skeptical about a beautiful artisanal cheese or a perfect head of Maine lettuce.” He works hard to support Maine producers as exclusively as he can.
Born in northwest Ohio, Hayward initially studied classical music and played the double bass. But he always cooked as a hobby, and when a friend invited him to man the kitchen at an oceanographic lab on one of the Isles of Shoals in 1974, “I fell in love with the Gulf of Maine—not just the breathtaking seascape but the whole biological system,” he says. Now he’s so attached to Maine “that I get anxiety attacks when I have to go over the Kittery bridge.”
Fore Street: Unique Décor and Nose-to-Tail Cooking
After training on-the-job at various eateries, he opened Fore Street in 1999. The décor features “no faux textures—everything is genuine, lived with. The tables are made of copper or wood from old barns. The restaurant is one big room with an open kitchen as if it were a theater. You can watch as the staff cooks in front of a glowing, wood-burning oven or turns a spit with big joints of meat.”
His most consistently popular appetizer is the wood oven-roasted mussels. Hayward also loves “the braised, sugary sweet late winter root vegetables.” And he’s especially proud of “the Maine island lamb. It’s nose-to-tail cooking with the lamb prepared three ways: a slowly smoked shoulder cut, a marinated leg of lamb turn-spit roasted, and a loin or rib chop, grilled.”