by Bruce Rutledge, the North American Post
Japanese chefs in the Pacific Northwest made a solid showing when the prestigious James Beard award released its long list of nominees for best chef and restaurant in early March. But in late March, when the long list of 20 in each category was winnowed down to five, the region’s Japanese chefs were shut out.
Many were hoping 77-year-old Shiro Kashiba would finally have his turn to win the national best chef award, but he was left off the list. Same with rising star Shota Nakajima of Adana, and chefs Mutsuko Soma (Kamonegi), Taichi Kitamura (Sushi Tamura Kappo), and Junko Mine (pastries at Juanita).
In fact, with the lone exception of Canlis, nominated for best service, Seattle area restaurants didn’t make the list.
In the regional category for Best Chef: Northwest, nominees were split between Portland and Seattle. The five finalists are: Peter Cho of Han Oak (Portland), Katy Millard of Coquine (Portland), Brady Williams of Canlis, Justin Woodward of Castagna (Portland), and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
Winners will be announced in an awards gala in Chicago on May 6.