Rockland Chef Named James Beard Semifinalist List for ‘Best Chef NYS’

January 25, 2023

Congratulations to Paolo Garcia Mendoza, the chef and owner of Karenderya in Nyack, who has been nominated as a semifinalist for "Best Chef New York State" by the James Beard Foundation. The semifinalist announcement, a coveted industry nod, is part of an annual list of nominees that kicks off a busy season of industry awards. A pared-down notice of finalists follows on March 29 with winners in each category announced at a ceremony in Chicago on June 5. More details can be found at

Paolo grew up in Pasay City, Philippines and then moved to Brooklyn, NY at age 15. As a young child, he would watch cooking shows with his mom.  He has been a lifelong fan of eating, and is most passionate about the flavors of Southeast Asia, as well as the cultures that have influenced those cuisines. He has two decades of working experience in the restaurant business.

A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School), Paolo worked in the kitchens of some of the country’s most well-known chefs and restaurateurs, including Floyd Cardoz and Geoffrey Zakarian. In addition, he gained a great deal of experience in high-end catering, working for Abigail Kirsch. Since moving to Rockland County in 2010, Paolo has gotten to know the local restaurant industry well, having served as Sous Chef and then Executive Chef at Café Barcel in Nyack, and as Sous Chef at Roost in Sparkill. 

In 2017, Paolo was finally at the helm of his own kitchen at Karenderya, which was named one of the Best New Restaurants in America, 2018 by Esquire.

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