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Our final contender in the Sierra Chefs Challenge has been announced – and it’s Chef Jimi Nakamatsu of Kalani’s Restaurant!

Born and raised in San Jose, CA, Kalani’s Chef Jimi Nakamatsu’s cuisine is a reflection of his formal culinary training as well as growing up in a diverse multicultural environment.  These factors have allowed Jimi to develop a love for all ingredients, all styles of cuisine and a dedication to constant learning and investigating new techniques and flavors.

After culinary school, Jimi’s first restaurant job was at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii.  As one of the largest resorts in the Hawaiian Islands, this location gave him the opportunities to learn a multitude of skills such as sushi, large scale banquets, ice carving and overall restaurant management.

After Hawaii, it was on to San Francisco, where he learned from a number of accredited chefs.  Line cook positions with Chef Daniel Humm (Chef/Owner Eleven Madison Park, NY) at Campton Place Hotel, Hiro Sone at Restaurant Ame in the St. Regis Hotel and a Sous Chef position at the Fifth Floor Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar.  Each position was dramatically different, from the intricate fine dining, to the rustic approach of complete use of product.  The constant were the Chefs – each one always maintaining the selfless attitude of correctly servicing their customers, an adherence to right and wrong, and the no short cut approach to the craft.

In his current position at Kalani’s, Chef Jimi continues to build on the restaurant’s Asian inspired ingredient –driven menu, while incorporating his personal and culinary experiences to serve his guests.  “We create experiences for people, its our guests that matter and we can only create great memories for people if we are at our best,” he explains. “and we can only be at our best, when our attitudes are united and our execution of food and service are at the priority of our minds.”

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