PORTLAND, Maine — For Colin Wyatt, executive chef of Twelve, seeing his restaurant's name in The New York Times' 2022 list of America's best restaurants first thing Monday morning was something very special, even after his time as executive sous chef at New York City's Eleven Madison Park, widely recognized as one of the top restaurants in the world.
"It was awesome," he said. "We had a lot of goals for this restaurant, but that was huge."
"One hundred percent. The New York Times is the New York Times," Wyatt said. "There's no better honor than getting in that list."
Two Portland names were on the Times' list of the best 50 restaurants in the country this year, Twelve and nearby Leeward.
It's another strong showing after the city bested much-larger Boston earlier this year with five James Beard Award finalists. Boston had two and a leadership award winner. Depending on how you look at it, the Times list is sort of the same. Boston proper only had one name, Neptune Oyster, though nearby Cambridge made the cut too with Dear Annie.
Georgia Macon, Twelve's pastry chef, gets a shout-out on the list for her Parker House rolls.
"It's an honor," she said. "I didn't expect to get there this quickly in my life."
Like Wyatt, Macon credits everyone at Twelve with its success after just two short months of being open.
"We're all sort of involved everywhere," she said.
"Everybody on this team has worked really hard to do what we've done," Wyatt said.
For the restaurant, Wyatt says there's still much to do and achieve. He feels similarly about the city he's returned to, one the list describes as a town often declared a diner's paradise.
"I mean, I was here 15 years ago when Portland first started making lists as like a sneaky good food city," he said. "It's only gotten better since then. Everybody's pushing each other in the best way possible."
Those diners definitely agree, which is why when you talk to chefs here, there's no time to rest on recognition.
"Right back to it," Mason said. "Bread doesn't knead itself."