Ai Seattle Grad Named Semifinalist in James Beard Award’s Best Chef Northwest Category
Filed under: Culinary
March 12, 2018
Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi in Seattle, was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef Northwest category in the 2018 James Beard Awards. Soma is a 2003 graduate of the Associate of Applied Arts in Culinary Arts program at The Art Institute of Seattle.
Chef Mutsuko Soma was born and raised in Tochigi, Japan. She moved to the Pacific Northwest to study the culinary arts at The Art Institute of Seattle. After spending years refining her skills at restaurants like the Harvest Vine, Chez Shea, and Saito’s, Chef Soma moved back to Japan to learn the art of making traditional soba noodles in the hopes of finding something unique to bring back to the Northwest.
While studying soba making, Chef Soma discovered that much of the buckwheat used in Japan were sourced directly from Washington, one of the largest buckwheat producing states in the United States. This fact reaffirmed her decision to introduce soba to the Pacific Northwest, an area that has greatly influenced her throughout her cooking career. Along with being a chef and artisan soba maker, Soma is also a certified sake sommelier certification from the Japan Sommelier Association, WSET (level 3).
Kamonegi began as a soba pop-up founded by Soma in 2012 in the Los Angeles area. She eventually hosted more in Seattle and Portland. Through Kamonegi, Soma introduces soba mixed, rolled, and cut by hand; a specific process that produces silky, lightly buoyant noodles that retain the nutty aroma of buckwheat. She also served as chef of Miyabi 45th in Seattle from 2013 to 2016 where Kamonegi fans experienced a wide variety of soba dishes in three dominant styles: seiro (cold noodles with a hot dipping sauce), nanban (soba served in hot broth), and bukkake (cold noodles served with chilled broth and garnishes in one bowl). The name Kamonegi refers to a harmonious culinary pairing of duck and leeks, or more specifically a duck bringing you a leek, which symbolizes the good luck of one good thing that brings another. Kamonegi opened its brick and mortar at 1054 N 39th Street in Seattle in October 2017.
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