Congratulations to David Yoshimura, chef-owner of One MICHELIN Star Nisei in San Francisco and MICHELIN Guide California 2022 Young Chef Award winner! "Nisei" refers to the American-born children of Japanese immigrants, which Chef Yoshimura is; and the synthesis of that heritage forms the basis of this cuisine. Dining here is an elegant affair, but there's no risk of stuffiness—the service team is personable and an '80s power ballads playlist indicates that no one is taking things too seriously. Here's Yoshimura on pickles for breakfast, pickling to preserve seasonal ingredients, and his post-shift cocktail.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Generally I eat one of three things: eggs, rice, and pickles. Sometimes the eggs are raw, like tamago kake, or cooked. It depends on my mood.
Favorite food-related show, book, program, etc?
Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White
Do you cook at home, or do you leave work at work?
I am constantly cooking at home. It's a great way to relax and cook simple food.
What inspired you to become a chef, and what motivates you in the kitchen?
I was inspired to become a chef as a self discovery of my own Japanese culture. I am an only child and, growing up, I constantly cooked for myself and ended up loving the act of cooking for myself and others. I am usually motivated in the kitchen by other chefs that work very hard to achieve a similar goal. I am constantly motivated by my past mentor, Val Cantu, who is constantly pushing to make himself and his restaurant better.
How do you utilize seasonal ingredients?
At Nisei, we are constantly utilizing seasonal ingredients in multiple ways on our menu. We try to focus on featuring local, seasonal ingredients when they are at their peak by preparing them in a simple method like grilling. As the season comes to an end, we like to pickle or preserve these ingredients.
How do you wind down at the end of a shift?
A boilermaker, leftovers, and The Sopranos.
Hero image: Nisei chef-owner David Yoshimura
All photos © Brianna Danner/Nisei unless otherwise stated