PORTLAND — Maine wasn’t exactly starved for semi-finalists in the James Beard competition, but the state’s restaurants still came up empty this afternoon when the finalists for the coveted culinary awards were announced in Las Vegas.

Going into the nominations, Maine had eight semi-finalists in four categories. Despite that full plate, especially in the Best Chef: Northeast category, not a single Maine chef or restaurant made it to the finals this year.

Finalists for Best Chef: Northeast were Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston; Tim Cushman of O Ya in Boston; Matt and Kate Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence; Gerry Hayden of The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, N.Y.; and Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, Vermont.

The prestigious James Beard Awards are often referred to as the Oscars of the food world. Not only is it an honor to be nominated, the recognition can greatly affect a restaurant’s “box office,” sending its bottom line soaring.

Maine has had three Best Chef: Northeast winners in recent years. In 2004, Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland became the first Maine chef to win. Rob Evans of Hugo’s in Portland took home the prize in 2009, and Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows in Ogunquit won in 2010.

This year’s winners will be announced at a ceremony May 7 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

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