May 17, 2022 | Food + Wine | 0 comments

Yes, Chef

Interview by melissa mcgavock

recipes by rose pebbles

photography by eric killingsworth

food styling by savannah gates

Let’s talk about your experience with cooking. How did it begin?

“I was born in Tokyo, Japan, my dad was military. At an early age I was exposed to Asian cuisine. Even when we moved back to the states (Amarillo, Texas), my mother continued to cook Japanese inspired food.”

Did your mother teach you a lot about cooking?

“She inspired me, I guess. I also have an older brother and younger brother and my parents worked a lot. Often, I took over the role of home and house chores and that included cooking. …I watched a lot of the cooking shows on public television. Growing up, we only had a few channels, so I watched chefs like Emeril (Lagasse) and Julia Child almost daily.”

As a teen, were you inspired by these celebrity chefs?

“Sure, but I grew up modestly. I had to work with what we had in the pantry. I believe it’s those kinds of challenges that make me better, that, and the awesome support from my family. …It’s actually how I came up with the Wicked BLT at Oz Coffee Bar. I needed a signature sandwich on the fly, so I worked with what we had in the kitchen, and that day, it was some amazing bacon, so I made it the star ingredient.”

Did you attend culinary school?

“I was a student at the Art Institute of Dallas and completed my French basics, however, I prefer hands on learning and moved back home to Amarillo to dive straight into the restaurant industry. I was trained professionally by 3 Michelin Star Chinese Chef Richard Chen who I really admire. Today, I continue my growth by challenging myself to new international dishes weekly. Other chefs I’m inspired by are Dominique Crenn and Gordon Ramsay.”


What brought you to Granbury?


“Well… Our friends, Kevin and Eliza Knapp, invited my partner, Savannah Gates, and I to cater their Christmas party with our farm-to-table food truck back in 2019. The guests were blown away by the food, and we fell in love with the little “Hallmark town.” A few months later, we returned to perform our first “Experience Dinner” for a group of couples on Valentine’s Day. It was fireworks, and we ultimately decided to relocate our family, to open Oz Coffee Bar with the Knapps and continue hosting private dinners.”




What is your signature style?

After becoming a mom, my focus shifted dramatically to working with nutrition-rich ingredients. I enjoy criss-crossing traditional boundaries within the culinary world… and spotlighting ingredients that are usually lost in the background. Many of my dishes are layers of different cultures. For example, using a French technique, such as “sous vide”, to prepare a traditional South American dish, finished with Asian spices.I try to challenge myself daily, stepping farther outside the box. My absolute favorite… is working with ingredients fresh from the source, such as local farmers”


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