Chef Michi Watarai

Chef Michi WataraiFor as long as I can remember, food has been a big part of my life! I grew up with local parents that moved to San Francisco and enthusiastically experimented with every ethnic cuisine available. I’m sure, being from Hawai'i and growing up in our own cultural melting pot was the foundation for their willingness to try everything. They were always pushing the kids to try new things and they never hesitated to try cooking them at home too! I have very fond memories of making home-made pizza, tearing into my mom’s fresh-from-the-oven bread, my dad’s all day Chinese cuisine wok experiments, and just lot’s of home-made everything – so I guess it’s in my blood.

Moving back to Hawai'i in my teens, I quickly acclimated to chili & rice or chicken katsu plates (two scoops rice and mac salad, mmmmmmm). But since I’ve become an adult, I’ve shifted to being more health conscious, trying to strike a balance between eating right and exercising (I think I fall into the category of “exercise so I can eat what I want!”). What I’ve found on my own cooking journey is healthy food can taste great, and the occasional calorie splurge is just fine.

I’ve been cooking for myself and loved ones for years, challenging myself with different ethnic cuisines, new ingredients and revamping old recipes to suit our modern-day tastes. I really enjoy thinking about the way a dish will taste, how it will feel in your mouth (just as important as taste!), and how it will look on the plate. All of these things are equally important. I’ve taken that wisdom and started a catering business, with private clients and now an entire school! The opportunity to share my recipes with KTA shoppers over the last year has been really exciting too.

I hope these recipes inspire you to try new things at home. Try to experiment often – but even if it’s once or twice a month, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it’s not so hard to cook something new. The best thing you can do is to start off with quality ingredients, and as much as possible use fresh (produce, herbs, citrus juices, etc) and whenever possible, support your local farmers!

Cooking fresh for you,

Personal Chef Michi Watarai