Takashi Yagihashi was born in the small oceanside town of Mito, 100 miles northeast of Tokyo. At age 16, he began his restaurant career as a dishwasher in a French restaurant while studying interior design in Tokyo.
Drawn to the culinary field, he moved to the U.S. in 1981 to help Great Chef Yoshi Katsumura (Great Chefs of Chicago episode # 12) open Yoshi’s Japanese restaurant on Halsted Street in Chicago. By the time Yoshi’s was opened, Takashi realized he wanted to be a chef – in America. In Japan, the restaurants were too specialized – sushi, noodle houses, or tempura – and the preparation and presentation of food was very traditional. They don’t combine styles and techniques like they do in America, said Chef Takashi.
After three years of launching restaurants, he went to work at Les Plumes in Chicago to master the basic French technique, then went to work with Great Chef Yoshi Katsumura. Yoshi introduced Takashi to Great Chef Gabino Sotelino, (Great Chefs of Chicago episode # 1 & Great Chefs-Great Cities episode #34) of the Lettuce Entertain You Group’s “Ambria Restaurant”.
Gabino sent Chef Takashi on a tour to work under other Great Chefs David Burke of Park Avenue Cafe in New York City (Great Chefs-Great Cities episode # 13; Great Chef Masataki Kobayashi of Masa’s in San Francisco (Great Chefs of San Francisco episode #4), and Great Chef Michel Rostang of L’Arpege in Paris (Great Chefs of the World episodes # 253 & 257) before returning to work at Ambria. In 1993, he was named Executive Chef, replacing Chef Gabino who went on to open new restaurants for the group.
In 1994 , Great Chefs television recorded Chef Takashi at Ambria’s, preparing an appetizer, Seared Cape Scallops with Cepe Mushrooms and White Asparagus, and Mushroom Vinaigrette (Great Chefs of the World episode # 145) and an entrée, Roulade of South Carolina Quail with Cabbage, Foie Gras and Sage (Great Chefs of the World episode # 164).
In 1996, Chef Takashi opened his first fusion French/Asian restaurant in Detroit, Michigan called “Tribute”. In 2003 he was named Best Chef Midwest by the James Beard Foundation. In 2005 he opened Okada in the Wynn Resort Las Vegas for Great Chef Grant MacPherson, and in 2006, he opened “Noodles by Takashi” at Macy’s Department Store in Chicago, before opening his namesake restaurant “Takashi” in 2007 which earned a Michelin star in 2010. In 2011 he also opened a Japanese izakaya style restaurant (Japanese comfort food) called “Slurping Turtle”.
Congratulations to Chef Takashi Yagihashi on all of his wonderful achievements!