Masaharu Morimoto
Chef/Owner of Morimoto Restaurants

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 perfectly balanced flavors to the thousands of diners throughout the world. He has garnered critical and popular acclaim for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients and has effectively created a signature style that positions him as one of today's foremost chefs.

After a shoulder injury ended a promising career as a baseball catcher in Japan, Morimoto began studying sushi in his hometown of Hiroshima. He quickly grasped the technique of this exacting food art and, at age 24, opened his first restaurant. Five years later, he moved to America to expand his culinary repertoire and explore the opportunities and possibilities he saw for a cuisine that would combine the best of both continents.

In 1994, Morimoto was recruited to join the team at the original Nobu restaurant, and in 2001, he opened his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia. He debuted Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 2004, followed by a second Wasabi at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi in 2008. Morimoto has received numerous accolades for his cuisine and aesthetic, including several appearances on San Pellegrino's "Top 100 Restaurants in the World" list, a James Beard Foundation Award for "Outstanding Restaurant Design" for Morimoto New York, and in 2010, Morimoto Napa was named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best U.S. Restaurant Openings." Today, there are additional Morimoto restaurants in Honolulu, Mexico City, and Maui, a Morimoto Sushi Bar in Boca Raton, Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago and Morimoto South Beach in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand Hotel in Miami. In September 2015, a new Asian themed restaurant "Morimoto Asia" is expected to open at Disney Springs in Orlando Florida. In 2015 and 2016 a few more restaurants will be open in Bangkok, Las Vegas and Toronto.

Chef Morimoto first competed on the Japanese television show Iron Chef in 1998 and then became one of the stars of Food Network's Iron Chef America in 1999. As Iron Chef, Morimoto was able to showcase his flawless technique and creativity with unique ingredients in front of millions of Americans. His first cookbook, Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking, won two International Association of Culinary Professionals awards, including the Julia Child Award for Best First Book.

Beyond his culinary genius and the exquisite design of both his food and restaurants, Chef Morimoto's business acumen has helped him succeed in two related industries. Morimoto Signature Series of beer was launched in 2003 in partnership with Rogue Ales of Newport, OR, and his legendary knife skills led him to create a line of knives crafted by Zwilling J.A. Henckelscombining German engineering and Japanese steel.

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What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
I cooked eggs for my mother when I was a little. Nothing special, but just simple fried eggs.

If you've participated in the Festival before, what is your favorite SOBEWFF memory to date?
For my first burger bash participation.

If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
My mother. She wasn't a good cook because she never learned how to cook growing up in a wealthy family.

I never leave home without my:
white Nike sneakers.