Cara Stadler, Executive Chef and Owner
Lio Restaurant is the third restaurant from Cara and Cecile Stadler. The mother-daughter pair first teamed up professionally in 2009, when they formed Gourmet Underground (one of Beijing’s only private fine-dining clubs), and Eighty Ate Hospitality was established in 2018 to encompass all of the projects Cara and Cecile run in the great state of Maine.
While Cara grew up making Shanghainese classics in a kitchen infused with ginger and shaoxing wine, her training is far more global. Beginning her career at 16, she worked at Café Rouge in Berkeley, followed by Striped Bass in Philadelphia, before heading to Paris to hone her fine dining skills. While in France, after staging at Guy Savoy, Cara worked at Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon Palace, his two-Michelin star restaurant in Versailles.
At the same time as she was learning from these modern masters, Cara began noticing what has become her core guiding concept – what she calls “the perfect bite.” Specifically, she became fascinated with how, in a single bite, flavors harmonize in a sequence of moments, supported by the cadence of texture. Since then, Cara is constantly striving to put both new “perfect bites” and some classics on the table.
With the aim of finding more flavors and texture to bring to this concept, Cara headed to Asia in 2008. After working briefly in Singapore at French-Japanese restaurant Saint Pierre and heading up Gourmet Underground in Beijing in 2009, Cara moved to Shanghai and began her long-standing relationship with one of China’s most esteemed restaurateurs, David Laris. Starting out as sous-chef of Laris – at the time, one of Asia’s fine-dining landmarks – Cara later launched David’s private dining restaurant, 12 Chairs, which has been hailed one of Asia’s best restaurants by The Miele Guide.
Cara returned to the U.S. in November 2011, eager to work with her mother to bring to Brunswick her unique twist of contemporary Asian fusion combined with the bounty of local Maine flavors. Tao Yuan Restaurant opened in May of 2012 as Cara and Cecile’s first full service restaurant. Three years later, Bao Bao Dumpling House was born – a fast casual dumpling shop in Portland’s West End. This was followed in 2018 by Lio Restaurant, a tapas and wine bar in the heart of downtown Portland. In 2014, Cara was recognized as a Food and Wine Best New Chef, and for each of the five years until the age of 30, she has been nominated for James Beard Rising Star award, a nod to the industries future talent and leaders.
Kate Hamm, Pastry Chef
Kate started in the restaurant business at the age of 16, bussing tables at a colonial themed restaurant in Central Massachusetts, and shockingly never looked back. She worked in various bakeries, bars, and restaurants in scenic Western Massachusetts before moving to Chicago, where she worked at Michelin starred restaurant Longman and Eagle under executive pastry chef Jeremy Brutzkus. She relocated to Maine in 2015, where she worked as the pastry chef at Tao Yuan for two years. On her days off you can find her swimming in the ocean as frequently as possible, walking her dog in the woods, and enjoying some nice wine.
Nathan Berger, Wine Director
Nathan Berger is from Washington, DC, but cultivated his love for food while living in renowned culinary destinations such as Paris, Florence, Bangkok and Manhattan. He developed an early passion for food, language and culture, nurtured by his multi-ethnic family and extensive international travel. Nathan attended Columbia University, exposing him to the vibrant, diverse flavors of New York City. During his junior year abroad in Florence, Italy, the already food-crazy Berger was exposed to a new world of wine and hospitality, and his path into the restaurant industry was set. When a good friend returned to Washington to open the DC off-shoot of famed Florentine restaurant, Acqua al 2, Nathan signed on as a part-owner and investor, developing and implementing the beverage program from the ground up. In 2013 Nathan opened Beuchert’s Saloon in DC with two close friends. Beuchert’s Saloon continues to enjoy critical success and immense neighborhood support, affording Nathan the chance to follow his heart. In summer 2019 he moved to Portland to be with his partner of 4 years, and focus on work-life balance. Nathan loves all booze equally, but is proud to be a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Specialist with the Society of Wine Educators, & to hold an Advanced Certification with Distinction from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. When not at the restaurant, he can be found exploring Portland, walking his dogs on the beach, watching a movie or sitting at a local bar for a cocktail or three.