Hawaii Cooks Cookbook cover
|Education||Culinary Institute of America|
|Cooking style||Hawaiian fusion|
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he spent time in Los Angeles in apprenticeships at L'Escoffier and L'Ermitage under the late master chef Jean Bertranou. He was soon elevated to executive chef status with stints at Le Serene and Le Gourmet. He then opened the Euro-Asian 385 North in West Hollywood, featuring Asian presentations of French classical themes. He then moved to Hawaii, where he opened Roy's in 1988 and, with other local chefs, helped to pioneer the trademark of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.
He is Hawaii's first-ever James Beard Award winner. After opening three other Roy's locations throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Yamaguchi branched out to the continental U.S. and eventually partnered with Outback Steakhouse, allowing greater expansion to areas including Pebble Beach, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; Chicago; New York City; and more recently, Plano, Texas; Jacksonville Beach, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Atlanta, Georgia; Tampa, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Maryland. Besides his 30+ U.S. locations, Yamaguchi's eclectic blend of East, West, and Polynesia can be found in Japan and Guam, and he has partnered with Continental Airlines to produce his cuisine for travelers in Business First class on flights between Asia, Hawaii, the West Coast, and the Southwest.
He is also notable for being the host of the cooking show Hawaii Cooks and appearing as Iron Chef Asian in the first American incarnation of the Japanese television show Iron Chef, Iron Chef USA, however he hasn't participated in a battle since the show got cancelled before he had the chance, and hasn't been invited to compete on Iron Chef America. He has published four cookbooks: Pacific Bounty (1994), Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii (1995), Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi (2003) and Roy’s Fish and Seafood (2005).
In 2009, Yamaguchi was seen in a less than stellar performance on Top Chef Masters on Bravo TV. He lost with the lowest score. At the judges’ table, Yamaguchi confessed that he was more of a “slow thinker” type of chef and he couldn’t think fast enough to come up with dish ideas.
Hawaiian fusion cuisine
Yamaguchi specializes in Hawaiian fusion cuisine. His chain of Roy's Hawaiian fusion restaurants focuses on fresh seafood and uses a blend of fresh local ingredients combined with Asian spices and European sauces. Roy’s also features hand-cut meats, sushi, fresh shellfish and signature desserts and cocktails, including the Classic Hawaiian Martini.
Roy Yamaguchi is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America. He is also a member of the steering committees for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and the Leeward Community Culinary College. He is on the Board of Directors for the Hale Aina Ohana, a nonprofit organization dedicated to championing Hawaii’s culinary industry and the University of Hawaii’s culinary training programs; Go for Broke National Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization with educational programs about the history of the Japanese-American veterans of WWII; and Grow for Good, a national initiative from Food & Wine magazine dedicated to raising $1 million for Farm to Table, a national initiative dedicated to supporting local farms and encouraging sustainable agriculture. He started the Tom and Warren Matsuda Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific for first-, second- and third-place winners of an annual culinary competition.