Roy Yamaguchi

Alana Folen
Wednesday - July 08, 2009
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Known for his exquisite cuisine and local flair, Chef Roy Yamaguchi is once again making his way to the top, showcasing his talents worldwide, most recently as a contestant on Bravo’s TV series Top Chef Masters.

“I think every chef has their own style of cooking,” says Yamaguchi, who was born and raised in Tokyo before moving to the U.S. to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

“I have always placed a lot of emphasis on putting an Asian touch to French-style sauce-making, along with utilizing the freshest local products available.”

Yamaguchi has worked with some of the best chefs in international cuisine, including late master chef Jean Bertanou. His hard work paid off when, in 1984, Yamaguchi opened his first restaurant, 385 North, on Hollywood’s La Cienega Boulevard. Then four years later, he took Hawaii by storm with the opening of Roy’s in Hawaii Kai. Now there are a total of 37 Roy’s worldwide.

“Dining at a Roy’s restaurant should be like visiting a neighbor - comfortable and relaxed - with lots of interesting food and wines,“Yamaguchi explains. “We have items on the menu which we refer to as the classics - like the blackened island ahi with soy mustard butter sauce, crab cakes with spicy sesame beurre blanc and the honey-mustard grilled short rib of beef with lomi lomi tomatoes and demi glace.”


Yamaguchi, who appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in February 1992, says he’s since been spreading “culinary aloha” around the globe.

As for Top Chef Masters, Yamaguchi isn’t allowed to say much, but what can be better than 24 world-renowned chefs vying for the title of Top Chef Master and winning $100,000 for the charity of their choice?

“It’s been a great experience, and that’s all I’m really allowed to say. The bottom line is to live life to the fullest,” says Yamaguchi, who chose Imua Family Services on Maui as his charity. “It’s an organization of dedicated people who do really great things for the people of Maui County.”

When Chef Yamaguchi isn’t busy in the kitchen, he enjoys making use of the outdoor grill or the Kamado for a barbecue with family and friends. Yamaguchi says his culinary inspiration is one that comes from within.


“When it comes to cooking, I have a visual food bank in my mind. I start by visualizing flavors, textures, aromas, etc.,” he explains. “Then I start creating a dish.

“It’s been a really interesting 20 years. Our restaurants have received such great support from the communities that they do business in and we are truly blessed,” Yamaguchi says proudly. “We look forward to being a part of these communities for many years to come.”

Catch Yamaguchi on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters at 7 p.m. July 22.

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