by Tom Isler | June 01, 2007

Cake-shaped trophy


The Food Network’s trophy

Victory tasted especially sweet, given the nature of the contest, in Portland, Ore., when the city was named the top “Delicious Destination of the Year” at the inaugural Food Network Awards, presented in Miami in April. Portland beat out two strong competitors -- Minneapolis and East Coast namesake Portland, Maine -- for designation as the country’s “new and rising food capital.”

A 20-person panel, led by staffers at the Food Network Kitchens, the team that tests all the recipes for the cable network, selected the nominees based on factors such as diversity of cuisine, national recognition and thriving local foodie communities.

Minneapolis was honored elsewhere this year with two chefs nominated for best in the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation: Tim McKee of La Belle Vie (, a French-Mediterranean restaurant, and Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma (, a new American eatery.

Portland, Maine, had its own James Beard nominee, Rob Evans, chef and co-owner of Hugo’s ( And the city’s Fore Street ( was named one of Gourmet magazine’s top 30 restaurants in the country for 2006.

Meanwhile, back in Portland, Ore., two more buzz-worthy eateries have opened since the Food Network Awards were announced: Rocket (, which has an eco-friendly roof garden, and Clyde Common (, at the new 79-room Ace Hotel.