Congratulations are extended to Central Piedmont’s culinary arts alumnus Gene Kato ‘99, on being named a nominee. The awards are distributed by the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization that celebrates, nurtures, and honors chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.
The James Beard Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, and broadcast media, plus restaurant design, leadership, humanitarian work, and lifetime achievement. Kato is one of six chefs nominated in award’s “Best Chefs: Great Lakes” category.
The category recognizes chefs who set high culinary standards and also demonstrate integrity and admirable leadership skills in their respective regions. Nominees may be from any kind of dining establishment, but must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region.
Kato is the executive chef at Momotaro Restaurant, a Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood. Known as an innovator of Japanese cuisine, Kato is devoted to elevating Japanese cuisine while remaining authentic to tradition. His upbringing in a Japanese household in Charlotte, N.C., helped him learn how to cook the foods considered so integral to his heritage and culture.
Should he win the award, Kato will receive a certificate, a silver medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia, and a complimentary professional membership for one year to the James Beard Foundation.
This year’s winners will be announced on Friday. Sept. 25, 2020, from Chicago, broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed.