Kris Komori, chef de cuisine at State and Lemp in Boise, joins chef Laurent Zirotti, of Fleu de Sel in Post Falls, in the running for Best Chef: Northwest.
This isn't Komori's first nod from JBF—he was a semifinalist for Best Chef: Northwest last year—and has garnered attention from the likes of Food and Wine magazine, which nominated him for The People's Best New Chef: Northwest and Pacific region in 2015.
A College of Idaho alum, Komori earned his spurs at highly regarded restaurants in Portland, Ore. and Seattle before returning to Boise, where he joined State and Lemp, which has carved out a successful niche in the Treasure Valley for its inventive, ever evolving prixe-fix menu and contemporary yet intimate atmosphere.
Zirotti has traveled a long road to the kitchen at Fleur de Sel, which takes its name from a luxury salt, beginning with his upbringing in France. His early experience included a three-year course of study at hotel and catering school Thonon-les Bains in the French Alps, in which he enrolled at age 15; and a bachelor's degree in hospitality industry, which he earned in Nice.
Following moves to San Francisco and Billings, Mont., Zirotti and his wife returned to France where he worked for the Palais Des Festivals in Cannes and casino company Groupe Lucien Barriere. The Zirotti family again found itself in Billings in 1998 and at the helm of Enzo Mediterranean Bistro. A decade later, the Zirottis left Montana to open Fleur de Sel, which is located at the Highlands Day Spa, and in the nine years since have become one of the places to "eat like a king in North Idaho."
Finalists for the JBF Awards will be announced Wednesday, March 15, with the awards gala in Chicago set for Monday, May 1.