ORLANDO, Fla. – Kabooki Sushi chef and owner Henry Moso once again finds himself in the running for a prestigious James Beard Award.
This is the third time Moso has been nominated for James Beard Award, but it is the first time he’s made it to the final round.
“The mission of the James Beard Awards is to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” according to the James Beard Foundations website.
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Moso was first nominated in 2020 in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category at the age of 29. In 2022, he was a semi-finalist for Best Chef in the South, but he did not advance beyond that round.
Now, Moso is the only Florida chef among the finalists for Best Chef in the South. The winners are set to be announced on June 5.
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Moso told the Florida Foodie podcast he first came to the U.S. at 16 years old from Laos.
Moso’s culinary journey started the same way a lot of people have started in the industry, washing dishes at his mother’s restaurants, Bangkok Square and Origami.
Moso said starting out with one of the toughest jobs in the restaurant helped him prepare for his career ahead.
“It kind of helps you polishing your hard work and being tough, and knowing what it’s like to be in the dish pit and be the last one to leave at the restaurant,” he said.
Moso was not content to keep scrubbing pots and pans. He found himself being called to the sushi bar.
“My mom gave me an opportunity to do so. And next thing you know, I was the fastest sushi roller when I was 17 years old,” Moso said. “I think that that’s where you know where the action is: the sushi bar.”
Sushi is a very traditional Japanese cuisine, but Moso said he likes to bring an international flair to a dish that is steeped in tradition.
Kabooki Sushi has two locations, 7705 Turkey Lake Road and 3122 E. Colonial Drive, both in Orlando.