Four Southern Idaho chefs nominated for prestigious restaurant awards | Idaho
It’s official – Treasure Valley is home to the James Beard Award-nominated chefs. Not one, not two, not three — but four have been announced at the 2023 James Beard Awards for Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists.
In the Best Chef: Mountain division, which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah, Salvador Alamilla of Amano in Caldwell; and three others from Boise: Dan Ansotegui, Ansots; Kris Komori, KIN; and Kibrom Milash, Kibrom’s Ethiopian & Eritrean Food, were awarded.
The James Beard Awards, named after the renowned food writer, teacher and author, are awards presented annually to chefs, restaurateurs, writers and journalists.
Local restaurants represent a wide range of cuisines, but they all have one thing in common: a commitment to using local Idaho ingredients.
Alamilla is the chef at Amano in Caldwell. He was also recognized in a James Beard nomination last year. According to the website, Amano is “an artisanal Mexican cuisine that offers tradition in a vibrant and modern setting. We carefully source and honestly prepare to deliver the smell and taste of Mexico.
“From hechas a mano (handmade) tortillas made with aged corn (nixtamal) sourced from ancient grains in Mexico, to dishes that highlight the local Idaho harvest and honor all the hands that prepared them, to handcrafted ones Cocktails and small batch agave distillations to locally brewed beer and wine from the Snake River Valley.”
At Ansots, Ansotegui brings in taste and cuisine from the Basque Country. He’s been on the Boise food scene for four decades. He founded Bar Gernika in 1991, The Basque Market in 1999 and was most recently with Txikiteo. Ansot’s specialties include “a variety of chorizos, marinated solomo and Basque bacon,” according to the website. “We welcome you to our restaurant for small dishes, Basque and Spanish wines, Basque natural wine and espresso as you know it from your real or imaginary trips to the Basque Country.” This is his second consecutive year as a nominee for James Beard.
At KIN, Komori has become known for creating food as an art that is as delicious to eat as it is to look at. This is the fifth year in a row that Komori has been nominated for James Beard. The website says of KIN’s fixed-price menu, which changes every five weeks, “A five-course experience of food and drink, stitched together through storytelling in a collaborative setting.”
This is Milash’s first nomination for James Beard. Milash made his first experiences as a restaurateur in a Shimelba refugee camp in Ethiopia. When the family moved to Boise, he opened a restaurant in The International Market, which was destroyed by fire in 2015. Kibrom’s has been in its current location on the 35th State since 2016. On its website, owners Kibrom and Tirhas invite locals to linger in. “We love introducing people to the flavors of East African cuisine and offering people who enjoy Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine a place here in Boise where they can dine.”
Ansotegui was overwhelmed by his nomination. “Yeahaw – isn’t that crazy?”
James Beard’s recognition followed Ansots’ January 14 appearance on CBS’ Saturday morning’s “The Dish.”
“It was like boom, boom,” said Ansotegui. “We kind of had two things happening back-to-back.”
And while he said it was an honor, it was also “kind of scary”.
In the next few steps, people will come through the nominated restaurants who will serve as Beard judges. The finalists will be announced in late spring.
“It’s a bit mysterious,” Ansotegui said, adding that he didn’t even know he’d been nominated until friends and clients called to congratulate him after seeing the list on James Beard’s website. “It’s really cool to see Boise and the Treasure Valley being recognized for cool food.”