How Maine’s Top Chefs Stack Up Against Rest of America

Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Few states are more connected to the food staples the way that Maine is, with the Pine Tree State hosting some of the nation’s top chefs on a national scale.  

Between James Beard Award winners like Sam Hayward of Fore Street Restaurant and Rob Evans of Hugo’s in Portland and a host of other top-line chefs, Maine’s cooking scene is on par or better with any other in the country.  

As we kick off Culinary Arts Month this July, decided to look at which states across the United States have access to the best of the best chefs that you can find in America.  

While awaits the possible launch of Maine sports betting in 2024, we got hungry and utilized Best Chefs America, which has the 5,000 best chefs in a database to establish the top culinary talent in the United States, to collect the state location for each of the top chefs.  

We then utilized the estimated July 1st 2022 Census state population numbers to figure out the states with the best chefs by capita. Note this is where they are located, not where they are from. 

States With The Best Chefs Per Capita In America

Overall RankState# of Chefs on ListChefs Per Capita
2Rhode Island490.000045
7New York5400.000027
13New Jersey1980.000021
16New Hampshire230.0000164
21New Mexico280.0000132
23South Carolina640.00001211
24North Carolina1280.0000119

Where Maine’s Chefs Rank Nationally

Out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. that surveyed, the state posted the fifth most top-line chefs per capita, with a total of 41 making Best Chefs America’s list.  

On a per capita basis, Maine had 0.000030 chefs per capita make the cut, ranking behind other locales like Vermont (0.000071), Rhode Island (0.000045), Nevada (0.000039) and Hawaii (0.000033) nationally.  

Given Maine’s tiny population basin (with 1.362 million residents, ranking 41st nationally), it’s pretty incredible that the state was able to place as many chefs as they did on Best Chefs America’s list for 2023.  

Nationally, Maine had a higher per capita level than states like New York (0.000027), Delaware (0.000026), Oregon (0.000024) and Louisiana (0.000023), which were the locales that rounded out the top 10 nationally.  

In terms of raw numbers, California had the highest number of chefs on the list (796), followed by New York (540) and Florida (270), while Alaska (11), Montana (15) and Wyoming (17) had the lowest numbers of any state. 


Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.