Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Hawaii Vacation Blog

The Best Chefs in Hawaii

a person sitting at a table with food

Hawaii is a melting pot of many different cultures and cuisines. That’s why it’s so much fun to try different food in Hawaii! Here you can find not only traditional Hawaiian food but also Hawaiian versions of dishes from the mainland, Europe, and Asia. And talented famous chefs in Hawaii can make your gastronomic experience unforgettable. 

13 Hawaii Best Chefs and Restaurants 

The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards is one of the best culinary Awards in the world! The Best Chefs category is for those who have outstanding culinary skills and leadership abilities. Here are 13 Hawai‘i Chefs and Restaurants that made the Semifinals of the James Beard Awards in February 2022. 

Outstanding Restaurateur: Andrew Le, The Pig and the Lady and Piggy Smalls, Honolulu 

Outstanding Chef: Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, Honolulu 

Best Restaurant: Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu 

Best New Restaurant: Sooper Secret Izakaya, Honolulu 

Outstanding Bar Program: Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu

Emerging Chef: Brian Hirata, Na‘au, Hilo, HI 

Outstanding Baker: Mike Hirao, Nisshodo Candy Store, Honolulu 

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu; Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu; Mark Pomaski, Moon & Turtle, Hilo; Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof, Kahului; Robert Urquidi, Ethel’s Grill, Honolulu; Jojo Vasquez, Fond, Lahaina.

Among those 13 semi-finalists, Robynne Maii and Sheldon Simeon made the cut in the category of ‘Best Chef‘ in Hawaii.

Robynne Maii (Fête restaurant)

Robynne Maii is the first winner from Hawaii since 2003! Moreover, she is the first woman from Hawaii who received the James Beard Award. She works a Fete – a new American restaurant located in Honolulu’s Chinatown. The most popular food at the restaurant is the Korean chicken sandwich, served with Asian pear slaw, garlic-sesame aioli, and brioche bun.

Sheldon Simeon (Tin Roof restaurant)

Sheldon Simeon is a chef at Tin Roof restaurant in Maui. You may know Simeon as the chill dude from Top Chef (season 10) and a fan favorite of that TV Show. Furthermore, he is a guy with 100K followers on Instagram, who tries to keep up with reposting what people are cooking from his amazing book “Cook Real Hawai’i”.

“Sheldon is very rooted in Hawai’i, which speaks to his food,” says Chris Kajioka, the chef behind Miro Kaimuki and Papa Kurt’s in Honolulu. “That guy can make dirt taste good.”

You may also be interested to watch the video: Top Chefs: Sheldon Simeon and Anthony Bourdain Had a Hawaiian Adventure.