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Kenji Chiba was born in the city of Kesennuma, in the Miyagi prefecture of Japan. The youngest of four brothers, Chiba's childhood dream was to become a professional baseball player. After graduating from Yokohama University of Commerce, he began training at Zakuro, a celebrated traditional Japanese restaurant. He eventually rose to head chef.
While in his early 40's, Chiba was highly regarded as a master of Japanese cuisine. This is when he decided to make his debut in the ramen with Chibakiya in 1992 in an area of Tokyo known as Kasai. It has since expanded to five locations.
As an established restaurateur, Chiba also owns Kamome Shokudo in Yokohama, which he opened in honor of a ramen-ya from his hometown that was destroyed during the 2011 tsunami; and Makanai Kiichi, a popular new restaurant in the hip Ginza district where reservations are often difficult to come by.
Chiba is an influential voice in the Japanese culinary industry and served as the founder and former chairman of the Japan (Nippon) Ramen Association. His dedication to advancing the craft of ramen is not only limited to Japan, but also to the shores of the U.S. and beyond.
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