These 13 Hawai‘i Chefs and Restaurants Just Made the Semifinals of the James Beard Awards

First-timers include Nisshodo Mochiya, Gaku izakaya and Ethel’s Grill. Congrats to all 13!
James Beard Award Medallion


A record 13 Hawai‘i chefs and establishments are among the semifinalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards. The semifinalists were announced yesterday and showcase unprecedented diversity—across geography, ethnicity and styles—in the awards. The list includes previous semifinalists including Andrew Le of The Pig and the Lady and Michelle Karr-Ueoka of MW, but some of Honolulu’s most beloved institutions like Nisshodo Candy Store, Ethel’s Grill and Sushi Izakaya Gaku are getting the nod for the first time.


Here are all the Hawai‘i semifinalists:

  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Andrew Le, The Pig and the Lady and Piggy Smalls, Honolulu 
  • Outstanding Chef: Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, Honolulu 
  • Best Restaurant: Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu 
  • Best New Restaurant: Sooper Secret Izakaya, Honolulu 
  • Emerging Chef: Brian Hirata, Na‘au, Hilo, HI 
  • Outstanding Baker: Mike Hirao, Nisshodo Candy Store, Honolulu 
  • Outstanding Bar Program: Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu 
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu 


SEE ALSO: Pig & the Lady’s New Menu Restores Its Flavor Bomb Heights


Semifinalists for Best Chef in the Northwest and Pacific (which includes Alaska, Hawai‘i, Oregon and Washington):

  • Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu 
  • Mark Pomaski, Moon & Turtle, Hilo, HI 
  • Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof, Kahului, HI 
  • Robert Urquidi, Ethel’s Grill, Honolulu
  • Jojo Vasquez, Fond, Lahaina, HI 


Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 16, while winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago on Monday, June 13. 


SEE ALSO: Super Secret Izakaya Elevates Japanese Street Food to Kaiseki Cuisine