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When I first started cooking—some 20 plus years ago now—I fell in love with the world of ingredients that are available to professional chefs.
I’ve tried fresh-pressed Umbrian olive oil, and watched pastas being extruded through bronze presses in Tuscany. I’ve harvested salad greens for dinner service straight from the ground of organic farms in Calistoga. In Japan, I’ve witnessed sesame seeds transformed by toasting, grinding and pressing into a full spectrum of fragrant oils, I've stepped around soy sauce fermenting in cedar barrels, and I've tasted the spring water before it is used in the fermentation of rice for sake. I've witnessed the shaving of bonito flakes and helped to pack bags of shavings for sale. I consider myself lucky to work in an industry that provides me the opportunity to immerse myself in a world that most people can only experience from the outside.
I started my food career early by working in kitchens in high school, moving to culinary school at the CIA and getting my Bachelors in Food Managment. I worked my way up from the bottom, owning every station, earning a Michelin star at Ame and eventually opened my own acclaimed restaurant, Nojo. Nojo was a transformational experience. I knew that I loved Japanese food, but my travels in Japan opened up a whole new world. Japan is full of amazing craftsman who regard the production of their specific product as a life calling...often a generational calling. This is a world that has been closed off to American chefs; importing these ingredients has been a vision of mine for years. When I sold Nojo, I suddenly had the opportunity to focus on this vision and make it a reality by creating The Japanese Pantry. Now I have the time to commit to finding more of these incredible producers in Japan and the opportunity to bring their stories, their traditions and their flavors to the kitchens of professionals and home cooks alike.
I look forward to sharing my journey with you - follow us here as we make our way through the the beautiful and delicious country that is Japan.