"I've always been cooking. I started working at a French restaurant when I was fourteen. I worked in sushi restaurants as well, but I never got a chance to make sushi until I came to D.C. I always wanted to do it and finally got an opportunity at Sticky Rice. I am half-Japanese and half-Italian, so we were living this whole fusion lifestyle before the word became popular. We have been eating udon noodles and spaghetti at the same table my whole life.
"In D.C., I was able to cross paths with people who really inspired me and are not making the typical forms of sushi. I learned everything I know here. Still, sushi is still really young in this city and we, as a city, are still working to bring high-end, diverse and interesting sushi to this town. My inspiration will always come from the old-school Japanese chefs in Japan and New York. These guys are crazy alcoholic nuts, but amazingly talented. We need to bring more of that here. I would love to see more straight up, old-school Japanese places in D.C. Now, you see that there is a blending of the Asian restaurants where Chinese restaurants will serve sushi and Thai food. But, there is nothing like a sushi bar in a traditional Japanese place.
"Here, if you come sit at the sushi bar, we do our best to get people to try sushi and introduce them to new and interesting flavors and textures. Look, a lot of people are still grossed out by the idea of eating raw fish. When you think about it, it sounds kind of strange in our age of over-processing. But, that makes working in an open sushi bar that much more interesting. We are always coming up with stuff and being inventive. I spend my time looking around this city and the world for ideas and inspiration. And, I always come back to my family roots as inspiration on how to mix diverse cultures and flavors into my food."