Star-Bulletin Features

Chefs Mavro, Goto win
nominations for Beard award

The best-in-region contest
includes the Northwest

By Betty Shimabukuro

Two Hawaii chefs were nominated yesterday for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award.

Edwin Goto of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island and George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro in Honolulu were nominated in the category of Best Chef in the Northwest/Hawaii.

Also nominated were Claire Archibald of Café Azul in Portland, Ore.; Greg Higgins of Higgins in Portland; and Tim Kelley of the Painted Table in Seattle.

It is Goto's first nomination; Mavrothalassitis was nominated last year.

"I'm pretty stunned, actually," Goto said from the Mauna Lani kitchen, where he was preparing his Easter menus. "I'm so buried in work right now that it's strange hearing this."

Goto was nominated for his work at the Manele Bay Hotel on Lanai, where he served as chef for 10 years before moving to the Kohala Coast last month. He credited his team on Lanai for the work that led to his nomination.

"I think I'm a good facilitator, at getting people moving in the same direction and working together," he said. "That's what I'm most proud of. Everything falls into place after that."

Mavrothalassitis said his trip to New York last year for the awards ceremony "was fantastic." The events before and after the awards offered a chance to party with the greatest chefs in the business, he said. "For a professional it is like a dream."

He arrived in New York with no expectations, but once there, several people told him they were sure he'd win. "So then I started to believe. Of course, I didn't win and I was so disappointed."

The winner was Philippe Boulot of the Heathman in Portland, who Mavrothalassitis said was nominated 11 times. Hearing that, and about others who'd been nominated several times, "I said, 'OK, I feel better now.' ... I'm waiting for 10 times."

The only chefs from Hawaii to win the award were Alan Wong (1996) and Roy Yamaguchi (1993). This year's winners will be announced May 6.

Since 1990 the James Beard awards have recognized chefs, restaurants and others in the food service business, based on the votes of more than 500 industry professionals.

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