Chef Spotlight: KIN chef humbled by fifth James Beard nomination

Posted at 3:52 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 17:52:03-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Treasure Valley food scene is expanding and 2023 brings a new record: four local chefs named semifinalists for this year's James Beard Awards.

The local chefs up for the honor include Dan Ansotegui from Ansots, Salvador Alamilla of Amano in Caldwell, Kris Komori from KIN in downtown Boise, and Kibrom Milash from Kibrom's Ethiopian & Eritrean Food in Boise.

This month, we are going behind the kitchen door with each of the four chefs in our 'Made in Idaho' series to learn more about their restaurants and passion for cooking.

KIN Chef Kris Komori

KIN chef Kris Komori was humbled to learn of his fifth nomination — his second at KIN. The downtown Boise restaurant offers an exciting atmosphere where diners need reservations to enjoy a fine-tuned five-to-seven-course prix fixe menu switched out every few weeks to compliment the seasons.

"And every menu is themed in some way," Komori explained. "We get bored really quickly, even five weeks of a menu, we kind of get bored of that; we like everchanging ingredients."

Their current five-course menu is inspired by trends of 2023 featuring a grain salad, chicken soup with teff and leeks, sturgeon with seaweeds and mushrooms, a flat iron steak, and sweet ube pie.

A secondary space at the same location, Art Haus Cocktail Bar, doesn't require reservations and offers a more casual experience serving drinks, appetizers, and noodles.

Komori says many chefs compare the James Beard Awards to the Oscars for the movie scene, although much of it remains a mystery.

"For us personally in the restaurant, we don't know who nominates us, we don't know the judges, we don't really know how we get to the next step or even how we get nominated," Komori said. "So for us, it's not really any different in terms of what we do for our guests."

Guests at KIN enjoy a communal dining space where different parties share the experience seated side-by-side with kitchen staff involved every step of the way, explaining the inspiration behind each dish.

Even the art on the wall in the dining room is far from an afterthought. The local artists themselves inspire a few menus each year.

"The artist menus are always our favorite," Komori said. "For us, it's translating their technique and their own creativity, through food."

The ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible, and the dishes designed for each menu could be considered a work of art themselves. Komori says it's a result of collaboration among the entire crew.

"This place is 100% a team. I mean, when the James Beard nominations come out it's a little awkward for me sometimes because it's my name, but I think everyone in the crew knows this is a big 'we', it's not just the kitchen," Komori said. "It's the front of the house, the bartenders, it's everything. Food is just a part of what we do here."

Keep an eye on our 'Made in Idaho' series each Friday for the next few weeks to meet the other local chefs nominated for James Beard Awards.

Read more from our Made In Idaho series: