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.
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.
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.