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Chef's Choice is a Unique and Inspiring Book that is a Perfect Gift for

Aspiring Culinary Students, Home Cooks, and Professional Chefs

"Chef's Choice is a beautiful book." - Marcus Samuelsson

Message from Saori Kawano, Founder and President of Korin, Inc.

After publishing Chef’s Choice: 22 Culinary Masters Tell How Japanese Food Culture Influenced Their Careers and Cuisine in 2015, it continues to inspire and educate new and experienced chefs, culinary students, and those who love Japanese food and culture.

In this savory collection of mini memoirs, 22 culinary masters tell who and what motivated them to become chefs. They described early career influences, training, favorite Japanese ingredients, tools, and the pivotal role Japanese food culture has played in their cuisine and professional development.

Participating chefs include Nobu Matsuhisa, David Bouley, Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael Romano, Lee Anne Wong, Michael Anthony, Wylie Dufresne, Toshio Suzuki, Ben Pollinger, Toni Robertson, Eddy Leroux, Nils Norén, Yosuke Suga, Shinichiro Takagi, Suvir Saran, David Myers, Noriyuki Sugie, Elizabeth Andoh, Barry Wine, James Wierzelewski, and Ben Flatt.

Our goal in writing the book was to inspire, educate, and movitate student chefs, working chefs, home chefs, and everyone who admires Japanese food and culture. We wanted to go deep and learn from top chefs what it takes to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive restaurant world and the role that Japanese food culture played in their cooking and careers. We believe that the stories in Chef’s Choice can be a valuable resource for anyone pursuing a career in the restaurant business and those fascinated by Japanese food culture and cuisine.

We hope you enjoy it!

Chef's Choice Regular price $19.95 | Koirn Price: $15 Click Here


When I was in elementary school, I wanted to become a Buddhist priest so badly, but it was not meant to be. 

Postwar reconstruction in Japan was slow, and in Tokyo there was still great disparity among elementary schools in terms of wealth. I just went headlong in the direction the world was taking me. It’s still true now. Since my family members were tradesmen, one of my elementary school teachers told me to learn a trade so that I would always be sure to have enough to eat. That’s how I got into cooking.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Japan was at the peak of its rapid growth. Work was demanding. Although I wasn’t dissatisfied with my job on a daily basis, I knew that I would never see the world if I stayed in Japan and worked at one place. It just happened that I had met this cute American girl, and she was very friendly. I thought, “The Americans are such sweet people. Let me go and see for myself.” I was 26 or 27. That meeting turned into a chance to break free of my job and come to America. 

At that time, I was also hospitalized for one or two days for stress. In the bed next to me was an American, and I discovered that he had the same stress-related symptoms as I did. As we talked, we found that we were kindred spirits. When he asked, “Why don’t you come to New York?” it was like adding fuel to the fire. Those two meetings changed my life. 

After coming to New York City in the winter of 1972, I started working and gained considerable knowledge of Japanese cooking. At the time, there were really only a few high-class Japanese restaurants frequented by people in the import-export business who wanted to get information about Japan. They were like little communities who kept to themselves. But ordinary Americans had no knowledge of Japanese cuisine other than tempura and sukiyaki. Those were the days before sushi.

During that time, I had a lot of pent-up energy and often felt like getting away. So with New York as my home base, I went all over Eastern and Western Europe. Then I traveled to Asia. Because of the war in Vietnam, I didn’t go to China or countries around there. I traveled to a lot of places around the world, came back to New York, and then went away again. 

For me, traveling is about self-discovery. 

In the North African desert, I saw a traditional tagine pot made of heavy clay. I thought, “How brilliant.” It is probably the original tool used for steaming food. I discovered that the people there have great cooking techniques and great wisdom. As I traveled, I often saw similarities in cultures––the way people eat soba in Tibet is similar to how we eat it in Japan. So before I knew it, I had learned many new things about cooking and food. I saw a lot that inspired me. In going to all these places I tasted what it was to have a worldview, but I still returned to live and cook in New York.

(Click here for a free PDF download of Toshio Suzuki’s complete mini memoir.)