Rising Star Chef Taka Sakaeda of Nami Nori - Biography

New York, NY

November 2020

Although they didn’t want him to go to culinary school right away, Taka Sakaeda’s parents prepared him to be a chef early on: His mother was a hospital nutritionist and an excellent cook, and his father was the house’s food critic. Sakaeda got a job in a sushi restaurant as a dishwasher, then he began prepping and eventually took over the entire sushi station. From this mom-and-pop spot, Sakaeda applied for a line cook position at Manhattan’s prestigious Masa. A sushi chef abruptly quit, and Sakaeda suddenly had a bigger job than he anticipated. Chef Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama’s mentorship would define Sakaeda’s knowledge of food and business for years. He eventually became the number two at Masa and helped expand to outposts in Las Vegas and Tribeca. 

At Masa, Sakaeda was also introduced to his future business partners, Chef Jihan Lee and former Director of Operations Lisa Limb. In 2018, Sakaeda teamed up with Lee and Limb to open Nami Nori (“naminori” meaning “to surf” or “to ride the wave”). At the more affordable, sustainability-focused, temaki-centric concept, the three owners—Executive Chef Sakaeda, Chef de Cuisine Lee and Managing Partner Limb—plan to open multiple Nami Nori locations across the nation, starting with a second Brooklyn location in 2021. 

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