Roy Yamaguchi during a visit to the Pearl Harbor-based guided missile frigate USS Crommelin in 2004
|Education||Culinary Institute of America|
|Cooking style||Hawaii inspired cuisine|
Roy Yamaguchi (born 1956) is a Japanese-American celebrity chef, restaurateur and founder of a collection of restaurants including 30 Roy’s Restaurants in the United States and Guam, the Tavern by Roy Yamaguchi and Eating House 1849. He is one of the founding members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement.
Roy Yamaguchi is the chef and founder of a collection of restaurants including 30 Roy's Restaurants in the United States and Guam, the Tavern by Roy Yamaguchi and Eating House 1849. He is revered for his culinary skills and is known as the innovator of Hawaiian inspired cuisine, an eclectic blend of California-French-Japanese cooking traditions created with fresh ingredients from the Islands. He was honored with the James Beard "Best Pacific Northwest Chef" Award in 1993. Yamaguchi has earned honors including California Chef of the Year (California Restaurant Writers Association), Gault-Millau Top 40 (Forbes FYI), Top 50 Cuisines in America (Conde Nast Traveler), Fine Dining Hall of Fame (Nation’s Restaurant News) and the John Heckathorn Dining Excellence Award (Honolulu Magazine).
Yamaguchi was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. His Hawaiian roots are tied to his paternal grandfather who owned a tavern in Wailuku, Maui in the 1940s. He attributes his appreciation for food to his Hawaii-born father and his Okinawa-born mother. Upon graduating from high school, Yamaguchi enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York where he received his formal culinary training. After graduating in 1976, he accepted positions at some of the most prestigious California restaurants at the time, L'Escoffier, L'Ermitage, Le Serene, Michael's, and Le Gourmet in the Sheraton Plaza La Reina. In 1984, Yamaguchi opened his first restaurant, 385 North, in Hollywood. In 1988, he moved to Honolulu to open the first Roy’s Restaurant. Since that time, he has opened 29 restaurants in the United States, as well as others in Japan, Guam, and Hong Kong. He also teamed with Outback Steakhouse to open a Eurasian-themed restaurant in Florida.
Yamaguchi is also known as a television personality, hosting six seasons of the PBS series Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi. He was featured on the Food Network's My Country, My Kitchen, taking him back to his roots in Japan. Yamaguchi also competed as one of twelve of the nation's most notable chefs on the first season of Bravo Channel's Top Chef Masters, and also appeared as Iron Chef Asian, in the first American incarnation of Iron Chef USA.
In 2004, he launched a "Roy Yamaguchi" brand of cookware that sold on the Home Shopping Network. Partnering with Da Farmer & The Chef in 2007, Yamaguchi has also developed a “Roy Yamaguchi” food product line. He has published four cookbooks: Pacific Bounty, Roy's Feasts from Hawaii, Hawaii Cooks: Flavors from Roy's Pacific Rim Kitchen, and Roy's Fish and Seafood.
In addition to the acclaim his restaurants have received, Yamaguchi's personal influence and community involvement have placed him among the most influential chefs in the nation. In 1996, he gave the commencement speech to graduating class of the CIA, and in 2009, was elected to their Board of Trustees. In 2011, Yamaguchi was nominated by the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and was appointed to the board of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, now known as Brand USA. He is one of eleven board members for Brand USA, and has used his culinary and travel experience to help develop policies and strategies to promote the U.S. as a travel destination. He is also part of the U.S Department of State's American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who have agreed to be resources and elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts.
In addition, Yamaguchi, founded and chairs, along with Chef Alan Wong, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. He established the Tom and Warren Matsuda Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships to students to attend the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. Founding the Roy’s Annual Golf Classic more than 17 years ago, Yamaguchi has been instrumental in raising more than $400,000 for Imua Family Service. Yamaguchi also serves as trustee and/or member of nonprofit boards, including the U.S. Japan Council, Go For Broke, Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation and Good to Grow.
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