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James Beard awards bypass Hawaii again

The finalists for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards were announced this morning, again with no names from Hawaii making the list.

Two Hawaii chefs, a baker, a bar and three restaurants were on the shortlist of semifinalists released in February, but none of them made the finalists cut.

It has been more than a decade since anyone from Hawaii has made the finals. Chef George Mavrothalassitis was the last to claim an actual prize, a regional best chef award in 2003.

The seven total semifinalists was a high number, leading to hope that someone might move on to the next step.

The semifinalists included: George Kanemitsu of Kanemitsu Bakery on Molokai as outstanding baker, Mama’s Fish House on Maui as outstanding restaurant, and in Honolulu, Maru Sushi as best new restaurant, Bar Leather Apron for outstanding bar program, and Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar for outstanding wine program. Chefs Chris Kajioka of Senia and Ed Kenney of Town, Mud Hen Water, Kaimuki Superette and Mahina & Sun’s, were semifinalists in the category of best chef in the western region, which also includes California and Nevada.

The awards ceremony will be held May 7.

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