Makoto Okuwa – Chef/Owner at Makoto Restaurant

Hailing from Nagoya, Japan, Makoto Okuwa’s passion for his home culture’s cuisine has always been apparent, as he attempted to make his first hand roll at the age of 3. His decade-long apprenticeship began at 15, first under Sushi Master Makoto Kumazaki, then with Sushi Master Chef Shinichi Takegasa, eventually moving to Washington, DC, where he worked closely with Iron Chef Morimoto. Shortly thereafter, he began working as Head Sushi Chef at Morimoto establishments in New York and Philadelphia, and has since received many awards and appeared on Top Chef alongside his mentor. He opened his first restaurant, Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge in Manhattan Beach, CA in 2007, and his most recent namesake establishment in Bal Harbor in 2011.

What is your favorite food memory?
The most memorable meal I’ve ever had was at The French Laundry by Thomas Keller. You know, it’s never about the beautifully executed dishes when it comes to restaurants. Of course the food is going to taste good. But what moved me was the level of hospitality. The restaurant had a live orchestra that went around to different tables to play for the guests. When they reached my table, they began playing a Japanese folk song. I almost cried! At that moment I felt from the bottom of my heart that Thomas Keller went above and beyond for his guests. I might forget what I ate, but I will never forget how the restaurant made me feel. Someday I’d like to provide that level of hospitality at my own restaurant.

What do you like about Japanese knives?
Whenever I use Nenohi knives, I always think “wow… what a balanced, well crafted knife.” I’ve been collecting and using them for years for that reason. Of course every knife is going to be sharp, and how long the knife stays sharp depends on the type of steel… But what is special about Nenohi is that their knives are all so well balanced in your hand, and the design is just so beautiful. You can’t ignore how gorgeous they are with the sleek design and elegant handles.

Do you have any knife memories?
I have many knives that were gifted to me. Every time I use them I am reminded of how I am supported by my loved ones, and it fills me with gratitude… The honyaki usuba knife that my mother gave me before I left for the U.S., the knife someone would give me as a parting gift, or the spectacular knife that Saori (Korin’s founder) gave me… All of these memories define my career as a professional chef.

2017 Korin Knife Catalog