Some of Chef Brad Deboy’s earliest memories were watching his mom, a baker, work her magic in the bakery. “I remember being about 5 years old and playing with flour and sugar and stealing icing for a taste here and there,” Deboy recalls. “It was a fun place to mess around.”
That early kitchen immersion led to a fascination with food in general. Other early memories include his ongoing quest to re-create the perfect-looking food he saw on television commercials.
“This was my early practice at plating,” Deboy explains. “I was determined to make a cooked egg the same exact size as an English muffin, which I achieved by cooking it in a coffee mug with a paper towel over the top.”
Chef Steve McHugh grew up in Walworth, Wisconsin, population of approximately 1,800 and home to Kikkoman’s first U.S. plant in the heart of Midwestern farmland. McHugh’s parents, both working professionals who raised seven boys, decided to buy a dairy farm in the 1970s. The purpose was to keep his six brothers and himself fed and out of trouble, but the benefits were much greater.
“I have very early memories of my mother milking cows, canning and baking. She was a nurse and went back to school to become a physician because she loved to take care of people. My dad, who was a teacher, took over all the cooking and feeding duties. I inherited both of their caretaking traits, and I am interpreting them into my work as a chef and restaurateur who knows all the local farmers and who lets their crops dictate my menu,” McHugh says.
|Lien Lin||Bricolage is a French word and, loosely defined, it means “repurposing discarded items into art.” Bricolage is also the name of Chef Lien Lin’s Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn, where she and her husband, Edward Lin, specialize in fresh, modern and deeply personal variations of Vietnamese food. From the scaffolding reused to make the tables to the mismatched chairs and the menu mashup of Vietnamese standards with some Brooklyn twists, the French term makes sense.|
|Alex Seidel||As a life-long gardener and a chef who started his career at 14, Chef Alex Seidel could be described as a culinary renaissance man. In addition to being a critically acclaimed chef, he has his hands in farming, animal husbandry, cheese-making and owning and operating retail-restaurant spaces.|
|José Mendín||As a son of Puerto Rico and a resident of Miami Beach, Chef José Mendín blends cuisines and cultures with ease. His love of food, fostered by family, guided him to pursue a degree from Johnson & Wales University in Miami. Post-graduation, in 2001, his first big industry job came when he joined the team that opened Nobu Miami.|
|Eddie Lam||Born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and raised in Oakland, California, Chef Eddie Lam graduated from San Jose State and the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. Lam is well versed in the cuisines and cultures of the Far East and the Pacific Northwest, and many points in between.|
As much as she is a chef and a restaurateur, Esther Choi also considers herself an ambassador for Korean cuisine and culture in the United States.
Born to Korean parents in the suburban town of Egg Harbor, N.J., Choi was always keenly aware of her heritage. Choi’s grandmother Jungok Yoo took care of the children while their parents worked, preparing kimchi and other traditional recipes in the age-old fashion, grinding her own chile for seasoning and fermenting vegetables in pots in the backyard. Choi’s grandmother grew her own vegetables in the garden; Choi followed her everywhere, asking questions and learning.
|Harold Jurado||Many of today’s young chefs were first exposed to cooking through their parents, especially their mothers. Harold Jurado literally slept on 50-pound bags of flour in his mother’s Filipino bakery and restaurant in suburban Chicago. At the age of five, he was baking traditional Filipino bread rolls, and he was also using a cooling rack and five-gallon bucket to play back-alley basketball.|
As David Bazirgan was working his way up in culinary circles, he was also working his way west, to San Francisco.
A native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, he started out washing dishes in a restaurant in his hometown, but his interest was piqued enough to attend the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Boston, where he immersed himself in French technique.
|Mihoko Obunai||Japanese native Mihoko Obunai developed her passion for cooking while living and working in Peru after graduating from New York University. Obunai attended the French Culinary Institute and trained at several acclaimed New York restaurants, including La Caravelle, under chef Cyril Renaud; L’Absinthe, Bayard’s; and Guastavino’s, under chef Daniel Orr. She cooked at the James Beard House twice during her tenure at Guastavino’s and once while at Repast Restaurant.|
Resides: Houston, TX
Culinary Education: San Jacinto College
As the executive chef of the award-winning contemporary-Korean restaurant Dosi, in Houston, Jordan Asher puts his professional biography on every single plate. He has spent his entire career on the learning curve, seeking experiences in different restaurants at the right hand of chefs who have taught him something new at every point. That experience has all come together at Dosi, where chef Asher has been able to put his own stamp on the menu.
|Richard Sandoval||Growing up in Mexico City, Richard Sandoval would join his grandmother in the kitchen and gather around her large table with family to enjoy lively Mexican feasts prepared from scratch. From his grandmother, he learned to respect fresh, authentic, ingredients and to create the vibrant flavors that turned family dinners into celebrated events. Meanwhile, his restaurateur father – owner of Madeiras in Acapulco and Villa Fiore also in Acapulco –imparted lessons in service and restaurant management.|
|Chris Jaeckle||Asian flavors are reshaping the American menu. And as diners become increasingly familiar with Asian cuisines and ingredients, they’re not just looking for authentic Chinese, Japanese and southeast Asian dishes. They’ve developed an insatiable appetite for “Asian Cool”—foods, fusions and flavors that combine the best of Asia with the other global cuisines they’re falling in love with.|
“We use tons of Kikkoman Soy Sauce at our restaurants. I like the flavor and the quality, wherever in the world I’m going with a dish.”
The world is her oyster, and the street is her beat. Susan Feniger’s Los Angeles restaurants—Border Grill and STREET—and the popular “Too Hot Tamales” TV Series (hosted with her longtime collaborator, Mary Sue Milliken) have made her one of the nation’s leading proponents of Latin cooking. But that’s just the beginning of a culinary road that leads all the way to the Far East.
|Andrew Hunter||Chef Andrew is the Foodservice and Industrial chef for Kikkoman where he develops custom and ready-to-use sauce solutions for manufacturer partners, as well as menu concepts for a broad base of restaurant, college and university, and healthcare customers. Through Andrew, Kikkoman is an able partner in developing profitable sauce solutions for its customers.|
|Jet Tila||From Hollywood and Normandie to the Las Vegas Strip, from backyard cooking classes to battling legends on Iron Chef America, Jet Tila has quickly carved his own unique niche as a culinary storyteller. Thanks to his diverse background and education, Jet is universally comfortable in multiple roles as a nationally celebrated chef and consultant, a teacher and a student in the art of food.|
|Robert Puerto||Chef Robert Puerto started working in restaurants at the age of 19, and earned a degree in culinary arts at the Ft. Lauderdale Art Institute. Chef Robert's culinary influences are much attributed to his Cuban roots, which have played a key role in the development of two Latin fusion concepts. He cooked for several years in Miami and Puerto Rico, and along the way learned the intricacies of French and Equatorial cuisine from master chefs.|
|Daniel Olivella||Daniel Olivella is the executive chef-partner and wine buyer of B44 Catalan Bistro in San Francisco, and Barlata, a tapas bar in Oakland, CA (and opening a new location in Austin, TX). He opened B44 in 1999 and was named a Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2001 by the San Francisco Chronicle.|
|Ann Cooper||Chef Ann Cooper is a celebrated author, chef, educator, and enduring advocate for better food for all children. In a nation where children are born with shorter estimated life expectancies than their parents because of diet-related illness, Ann is a relentless voice of reform by focusing on the links between food, family, farming and children's health and wellness.|