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No Hawaii finalists for James Beard Awards

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / DEC. 2016

    Chef Anthony Rush and Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia in downtown Honolulu.

Senia restaurant and Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar in Honolulu missed the cut to become finalists for a James Beard Award.

Both had been named semifinalists in February, as had many Hawaii-based chefs in the past, but when the James Beard Foundation announced its finalists this morning in Los Angeles, the Hawaii entries for Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Wine Program were not among them.

Three Hawaii chefs have won awards in previous years from the foundation.

When Roy Yamaguchi won in 1993, when Alan Wong was awarded in 1996, and when George Mavrothalassitis was named a winner in 2003, all were winners in a regional category called “Best Chef: Northwest.”

Hawaii’s region was reclassified from Northwest to the Pacific region in 2007, and then to the West region in 2013 based on a demographic analysis, according to Phil Vettel, chairman of the 2016 Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee at the James Beard Foundation.

Since those days, many Hawaii chefs have appeared among the semifinalists, only to have the potential accolade disappear upon the announcement of finalists.

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