James Beard Award semifinalists announced


Left to right: Chuck Furuya, Ed Kenney, Quinten Frye

The James Beard Foundation just announced its Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists. Three Hawaii food professionals made the cut: Quinten Frye of Salt Bar and Kitchen, for Rising Star Chef; Ed Kenney of Town, for Best Chef: West, Chuck Furuya of DK Restaurants, for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional.

You're probably familiar with Furuya and Kenney, who have done much to advance food and drink in Hawaii. Furuya seizes every opportunity to educate other food professionals about wine (a recent date night at Vino turned into a you-will-be-quizzed-on-this wine lesson) and Kenney is having his moment, cooking for the farm-to-table elite such as the First Lady and Alice Waters, bringing the spotlight to Hawaii's locavore movement. Quinten Frye is relatively new to the scene, but in the year since Salt opened, he has honed its menu so that it's simultaneously one of the most comforting and exciting menus in town.

Take Frye's recent additions to Salt's menu. The comforting: a "bacon and egg" sandwich that's really a gorgeous hunk of pork belly paired with a slow-cooked egg, housemade English muffin and kimchee miso; and a plate of tacos. Nothing fancy with the tacos, which were made with beef tongue on a recent visit, but just made-from-scratch everything, from the fresh salsa to the corn tortillas. The exciting: fried oysters with a yuzu kosho mayo and dashi crisps. The comforting and exciting: a duck ramen in a roasted apple broth, topped with duck skin chicharrones and baconlike crispy slivers of shiitake mushrooms.

Frye's background in Mexican cooking asserts itself at Salt's menu, but wait until he starts his Cocina pop-up at Taste. Launching March 8, he plans to run it every Friday lunch and every other Friday night. Check tastetable.com for updates.

Good luck to all the Hawaii semifinalists—the winners will be announced May 6.

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