Chef Masaharu Morimoto spent the first 30 years of his life in his native Hiroshima, Japan, where he perfected the art of sushi, first training under Japanese chefs before opening his own restaurant which he successfully ran for five years. But, in 1985, Morimoto turned 30 and made the move to New York City. He continued to hone his craft, which eventually landed him a coveted chef’s position at the famous Nobu restaurant in New York City.
Morimoto quickly cultivated a reputation for his edgy food which combines flavors from his Japanese roots with Italian ingredients and Chinese spices, all presented in classic French tradition. As his profile heightened, Morimoto opened his first restaurant, Morimoto, in 2002. The Philadelphia restaurant features hot dishes, cold dishes, noodles, a raw bar, and a sushi bar.
The celebrity chef later opened locations of Morimoto in New York City, Napa in California, and Waikiki in Hawaii, all of which feature his Japanese Fusion style. He also owns Morimoto Sushi Bar in Boca Raton, Florida, and Wasabi by Morimoto in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Morimoto New York garnered the chef critical acclaim, including Outstanding Restaurant Design in 2006 from the James Beard Foundation. That same year, Zagat Survey named Morimoto New York the Top Newcomer in restaurants and Travel and Leisure counted Morimoto New York among its top 50 New York restaurants.
The chef’s debut cookbook, Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking, garnered him an IACP Award and The Julia Child Award for a First Book. Morimoto went on to publishMorimoto Cookbook.
As the success of Morimoto the restaurant grew, Morimoto the chef’s profile also grew and expanded to numerous television appearances. Morimoto has been an integral part of Iron Chef’s success, having appeared in dozens of episodes on the Food Network program in the last decade. He’s also been featured on Iron Chef: Battle of the Masters, The Making of Iron Chef, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Hell’s Kitchen, The Next Food Network Star, andThe Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Morimoto was also a guest judge on Top Chef and guest-starred as himself on Hawaii Five-Oin 2011. In 2008, the celebrated chef lent his voice to the video game Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine.
While Morimoto has become one of the most successful chefs in the world, his future as a chef wasn’t always so certain. His prowess as a baseball player got him drafted into the major leagues in Japan. A catcher, Morimoto never made it to the big leagues after suffering a career-ending shoulder injury and instead pursued a culinary career.