Takashi Yagihashi

Tabo Sushi, Tabo Noodles, Slurping Turtle, Take Home Takashi

Over his thirty five year career, Takashi Yagihashi has been lauded from consumers and critics alike for his exquisite ways of melding contemporary French, Asian and American cuisine. Enhancing and updating the classic French with American and Japanese twists, the self-taught Yagihashi’s delicate balance and respect for natural flavors has become a hallmark of his cooking style. A native of Mito, Japan, Yagihashi was exposed to many culinary adventures as a young boy, growing up in a family who dined out often. Curious about what was going on in the kitchen, Yagihashi began working in a local restaurant as a teenager, which he continued to do while pursuing his Interior Design degree from the Tokyo Design School. After graduating (1981) and while looking into options as a designer, the restaurant owner recognized the naturally gifted cook’s talents and asked Yagihashi to assist with a restaurant he was opening in the States.

Intrigued by American culture and cuisine, Yagihashi accepted the opportunity and found a home in Chicago. During this time he fully realized his love of cooking and decided to pursue a culinary career. Over the next three years he worked in kitchens, eventually accepting a line cook position at the high-end French restaurant Les Plumes. At Les Plumes, he began to hit his stride, mastering the classic techniques and beginning to develop his own style. He next opted to explore nouvelle cuisine at the very popular fusion-style Yoshi’s Cafe; While there, he met Gabino Sotelino, Executive Chef and Managing Partner at the four-star Ambria. Sotelino recognized the young cook’s multi-ethnic culinary skills and in 1993 brought him on as Chef de Cuisine, breathing innovative life into Ambria; Shortly thereafter, Yagihashi was named Partner in this highly acclaimed stunner. After three years, he was presented with an Executive Chef opportunity, and he left Chicago to open Tribute in suburban Detroit.

An instant classic, Tribute exceeded expectations and was on every “best of” list, including Gourmet’s list of America’s Top 50 Restaurants, Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” (2004), four stars from the Mobil Travel Guide (2000 – 2004), four diamonds from AAA (1998 – 2004), The New York Times naming Tribute “one of America’s top restaurants” in 2002, describing it as perhaps “the finest restaurant between New York and Chicago.” Yagihashi was named one of America’s ten “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine (2000) and the esteemed James Beard Foundation selected him as “Best Chef: Midwest” in 2003. After achieving all he could at Tribute, Yagihashi relocated to Las Vegas, accepting the Executive Chef position at the high-profile Okada at the Wynn hotel in 2005. This energetic restaurant showcased a menu of contemporary Japanese cuisine influenced by French and American elements; at Tribute, Yagihashi had offered modern French with an eclectic Asian twist. The subtle differences show the intelligence and creativity of Chef Yagihashi’s menus. Under Yagihashi’s lead, Okada received rave reviews, including being named “Best New Japanese Restaurant” by Bon Appetit (2005).

His style is both defined and refined. Using contrasting tastes and textures, pairing simple with complex techniques, and utilizing all elements of the particular ingredient he is showcasing are hallmarks of his touch. A classic example of a showcase Yagihashi dish is the Lobster Trio – Tea-Smoked Maine lobster with Marinated Beets, Lobster Croquettes with Wasabi-Caper Remoulade, and Lobster Gelée with Lobster Claw and Lily Bulb Mousseline. Chef Takashi opened Tabo Noodles and Sushi at Macy’s on State Street in 2007, and in Novermber, 2015, Tabo Noodles at Macy’s, Herald Square, New York.

He also unveiled his namesake Chicago restaurant, Takashi, in December 2007 to immediate critical and consumer success. Both Esquire and Chicago magazines named Takashi a "Best New Restaurant." Enhancing and updating the classic French with American and Japanese techniques, the self-taught chef’s delicate balance and respect for natural flavors has become a hallmark of his cooking style. The restaurant earned a Michelin Star in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2015. he transitioned Takashi Restaurant to Take Home Takashi, where he recreates its eclectic cuisine and intimate ambiance for his guests in their own homes.

In late 2011, Yagihashi introduced Japanese comfort food to Chicago with the opening of Slurping Turtle in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. With a focus on ramen as well as items from the bincho grill, sashimi, and elevated takes on Japanese street food, Slurping Turtle became an instantaneous success and earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Slurping Turtle expanded to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Venturing on a new concept, Takashi launched Tabo Sushi by Takashi, a sushi station inside Plum Market when the Detroit-based, specialty grocery store opened in Chicago in 2013. He expanded Tabo Sushi to 2 locations at Midway Airport in Chicago in April, 2017. Chef Takashi’s newest concept, Tabo Sushi Wells Street, is scheduled to open in Chicago in Spring, 2018.

Yagihashi's accolades include: 2000 Best New Chef by Food and Wine and "Best Chef Midwest" Winner by the esteemed James Beard Foundation in 2003. He has also competed on Top Chef Masters (where he was awarded “fan favorite”), Iron Chef, appeared on the Martha Stewart Show and Top Chef as a judge. Takashi also competed and became a finalist against former Top Chef and Top Chef Masters personalities in a new Bravo series Top Chef Duels.