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Kenji Chiba was born in the city of Kesennuma, in the Miyagi prefecture of Japan. The youngest of four brothers, his childhood dream was to become a professional baseball player. After graduating from Yokohama's University of Commerce, he began training at Zakuro, a celebrated traditional Japanese restaurant, and eventually rose to head chef.
Chiba was in his 40s and highly regarded as a master of Japanese cuisine when he decided to make his debut in the ramen industry. He opened Chibakiya in 1992 in an area of Tokyo known as Kasai and expanded to five locations throughout the capital.
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.