Masaharu Morimoto - Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

TENTH ANNUAL - SAVE THE DATE – OCTOBER 2-25, 2020

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Masaharu Morimoto

Morimoto Asia Waikiki - Honolulu, HI

Chef Masaharu Morimoto has created a bridge between the culinary traditions of his native Japan and the American palate, bringing intense excitement, exquisite technique, and balanced flavors to thousands of diners throughout the world.

Chef Morimoto first competed on the Japanese television show Iron Chef in 1998 (when he was executive chef of Nobu in New York) and the Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 2004. As Iron Chef, Morimoto displayed his flawless technique and creativity with unique ingredients to millions of Americans. He opened his first restaurant in Philadelphia in 2001, followed by Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai and New Delhi in 2004 and 2008, and Morimoto New York in 2006. Today there are Morimoto concept restaurants in Bangkok, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Maui, Boca Raton, Orlando, and Tokyo. Morimoto opened his first ramen restaurant, Momosan Ramen & Sake, in New York City in 2016. Busier than ever, last year he opened Morimoto Doha, and this year he opened Morimoto Dubai, Morimoto Asia Waikiki, and Momosan Waikiki.

His first cookbook, Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking, won two International Association of Culinary Professionals awards and a Julia Child Award for Best First Book. He followed that up with Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking.

Morimoto’s business acumen has led to enterprises such as his Morimoto Signature beer series launched in 2003 in partnership with Rogue Ales of Newport, Oregon, and his line of premium sakes produced with the Fukumitsuya Brewery and wine produced with Michael Mondavi. To make sake more accessible to Americans, this year he launched Easy Cup Sake by Chef Morimoto, a five-pack of resealable glass jars of junmai. Morimoto’s legendary knife skills led him to create a series of knives designed by Zwilling J.A. Henckels.



 

WHY DID YOU BECOME A CHEF?
When I was growing up, I wanted to either be a professional baseball player or a sushi chef. When I injured my shoulder early on in my career, I turned to sushi, which was always a very special food memory early in my life.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING IN THREE WORDS?
Love, enjoy, challenge.

WHAT’S THE BEST HONOR YOU’VE RECEIVED AS A CHEF?
I am very honored to have the title of Iron Chef. Especially when I hear children and future chefs who see me on TV say that one day they want to be a chef like Morimoto — I feel very flattered. It is such an incredibly rewarding and encouraging experience. Of course, it comes with great pressure and stress to have to continuously live up to the expectation, but I keep trying and keep giving my best.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL AFTER A BUSY DAY?
When I’m working, I actually just eat one large meal a day consisting of Japanese favorites like ramen, sautéed vegetables, meat or fish, and rice.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
I travel more than 300 days a year to visit my 16 restaurants around the world, so I do spend most of my days in the kitchen. I love to get out and golf as much as possible so when I travel, if I have an extra day, I will try to get in a round! If I am home, I love to spend time with my wife and dog.

WHAT THE ONE LOCAL INGREDIENT YOU’RE EXCITED TO COOK WITH DURING HFWF19?
Seafood.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO HAWAII BEFORE? WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO DURING YOUR VISIT?
Yes, I regularly visit Hawaii and currently have three restaurants here. The island of Oahu is a very special place to me and I have two restaurants at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach called Morimoto Asia Waikiki and Momosan Waikiki and I have a Morimoto Maui at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.

IF YOU WERE NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
As I mentioned before, along with my dream of being a sushi chef, I aspired to be a professional baseball player. If I did not injure my shoulder, I would have loved a career in baseball, too. I’m still an avid baseball fan and enjoy throwing out first pitches at baseball stadiums across the world.