TEMECULA, Calif. – (June 24, 2015) – Kiyokuni Ikeda, a self-taught sushi chef who dropped out of high school to aid his ailing father, has landed the top job at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar at Pechanga Resort & Casino. After spending nearly 15 years working at prestigious sushi restaurants in Philadelphia such as Zama and Morimoto (of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto fame), Ikeda is happy to call Southern California home.
Though they lived in Tokyo, Chef Ikeda’s parents ran a successful coffee and soba noodle shop in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, more than two hours away. He helped in the shop occasionally as a child, but he recalls one singular moment when food opened his eyes to another world.
“When I was 10 years old, I tried an Egg McMuffin. It was kind of a shock to me, in a good way,” Chef Ikeda explained. “The texture and flavor were so different from anything I’d ever eaten before. English muffins weren’t something you could find at the market, and in Japan, or at least in my family, we never cooked eggs that way.” Read More