Roy Yamaguchi

Jo McGarry
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Friday - October 07, 2005 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Roy Yamaguchi
Roy Yamaguchi

Roy Yamaguchi needs no introduction. He is one of Hawaii’s supremely successful chefs with more than 30 restaurants worldwide. Yamaguchi is regarded as a pioneer who created Hawaiian-fusion cuisine. The James Beard Society has honored him and Gourmet Magazine calls him “the father of East-West cooking.” It’s memories of visiting his grandparents on Maui, though, that fuel his passion for using local ingredients and fresh island fish. When he’s in Hawaii, you’ll find him at his flagship Hawaii Kai restaurant, where he shows he’s never lost his passion for being in the kitchen.

Age : 49

First professional cooking job?

Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel. L’Escoffier (and later he signed on for an apprenticeship at the famous L’Hermitage).

What draws you to the kitchen - and keeps you going back?

The excitement of being with individuals with passion and creativity. And having the opportunity to create something that starts in my mind - and seeing it through.

Who has influenced you most in your cooking career?

The late Jean Bertranou (master chef at L’Hermitage restaurant in West Hollywood, who Yamaguchi considers his mentor), and Michael Blanchet (Bertranou’s right-hand man).

Favorite dish at your own restaurant?

Blackened ahi.

Favorite dish at another Hawaii restaurant?

The fried pork chops at Colin Nishida’s Side Street Inn.

What’s always in your fridge?

A-1 Sauce.

Favorite late night snack?

Beef jerky.

For whom would you most like to cook dinner?

The late Mr. Vinci, my school counselor.

What ingredient can you not live without?


How would you describe your cooking?

Hawaiian fusion - fresh, local ingredients, bold Asian flavors, European sauces with an emphasis on seafood.

Describe your restaurant to someone who hasn’t been there before.

Vibrant, unique, service-oriented, chef-driven.

How do you relax when you’re not in the kitchen?

I play golf.

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