Gem State culinary history was made Monday in Chicago. For the first time ever, an Idaho chef won a James Beard Award.

Kris Komori, co-owner of Kin in downtown Boise, took the honor for “Best Chef: Mountain Region.” He was among five finalists in the category, which also included Salvador Alamilla, co-own
Boise chef wins James Beard Award
er and chef at Amano in Caldwell. The others came from Denver, Salt Lake City and Teton Village, Wyo. The Black Cypress restaurant in Pullman was a finalist in the hospitality category.

Often referred to as the Oscars of the restaurant universe, the James Beard Awards are held annually. This year’s awards ceremony took place at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Before this, no Idaho chef had ever made it to the finals. Komori has been a semifinalist five times.

“Who in this room thought someone from Idaho would be up here?” Komori asked the audience after accepting his award at the podium. “I didn’t, that’s for sure.”

Despite having no idea whether he would emerge victorious, Komori and Kin co-owner Remi McManus brought the restaurant’s staff to Chicago for the ceremony. And Komori made a point to thank them: “We are incredibly lucky to have such a group of people that pour their heart and soul into a place that others would just call a job,” he said. “They’re genuine and thoughtful and beautifully unique, so this is for you.”

“Lastly,” he added, “this is for the city of Boise and the whole Treasure Valley of Idaho. This is for the farms and ranchers and purveyors. It’s for our creative community who keeps us inspired. This is for our friends and loyal guests. From every molecule of my body, I thank you and I appreciate you. We’re all Kin. When we get home, we’ll celebrate together.”

Located at 999 W. Main St., Kin opened in April 2021.