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Moso makes history: First local chef to become a James Beard Award finalist

Written By Scott Joseph On March 29, 2023


Henry Moso, chef and owner of Kabooki Sushi in Orlando, has accomplished what no other chef in Central Florida has been able to do: He is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef – South Award.

There have been many local chefs who have been named to the semifinalists list over the 32 years of the awards’ history but no one – in any category – has advanced to the finals.

Moso’s co-nominees for the South region, which includes Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Puerto Rico, are: Ana Castro, Lengua Madre, New Orleans; Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, Ala.; Alex Perry and Kumi Omori, Vestige, Ocean Springs, Miss.; and Natalia Vallejo, Cocina al Fondo, San Juan, PR.

Jimmy and Johnny Tung, the owners of the Bento Group, were semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurateur, a national award, but did not make the finals. Moso was previously a semifinalist in 2020.

Kabooki Sushi opened in 2013 in an odd venue near the corner of Colonial Drive and Maguire Avenue. A second location opened in the Restaurant Row District in 2019.

The chef awards will be presented at a gala in Chicago on Monday, June 5. Tickets for those who would like to attend and cheer Moso on will go on sale Mar. 31 at 5 p.m. and can be purchased here. The awards will be livestreamed on Eater.

To see the full list of finalists, visit jamesbeard.org.

South Steel SJO March AD copy

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