Chef’s Corner – Masamoto Hamaya

Chef Masamoto Hamaya —
Executive Chef,
Dragonfly Izakaya and Fish Market

Chef Masamoto Hamaya was born and raised in Japan. He went to college in Arizona, but returned home to Tokyo to go to culinary school. He came back to the United States to embark on an impressive culinary career: Hamaya was Head Sushi Chef at Uchi, James Beard Award Winner Tyson Cole’s restaurant in Austin, Texas, and he has played key roles as Executive Chef at Ozumo and Executive Sous at the Michelin starred Ame in San Francisco.

Who is your biggest culinary influence?
Easy…my mom. Even though she was never a cook, food was always a part of our lives and I’ve been recreating our family meals ever since I started cooking.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a chef, then the world would have one more starving artist. I know, I know…big aspirations!

What are the staple items in your pantry?
My pantry is ALWAYS stocked with fresh veggies. I love them and use them in everything.

If you had to pick one food item to describe yourself, what would it be?
Sashimi. It’s the simplicity of the dish that really mirrors my personality.

What’s your favorite curse word to use in the kitchen?
The one, the only…. “F*^k!” It’s convenient, simple, and the inflection can really change the meaning.

Why do you think Japanese food has become so popular in the United States?
Even though it’s known for sushi, Japanese food is so much more. I think that diversity and the simplistic flavor profiles that are so dominant in the cuisine are really a big part in the surge in popularity.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Miami?
No question – the driving. Anytime I get on the road, I feel like I’m in a real live version of Mario Kart.

What is your favorite restaurant in Miami right now (other than your own)?
Right now I’m craving Cake Thai almost daily. I love what they’re doing there and stop in whenever possible..

Dragonfly Doral just celebrated its first anniversary. To what do you attribute its success?
We’re humble, driven to learn, and dedicated to creating meaningful connections with our guests and employees. Those traits really create a place that people want to be at.

What do you like most about having your restaurant in Doral, one of Miami’s top up-and-coming foodie neighborhoods?
Being in Doral we’re really close to everything, but able to be a part of an up-and-coming area at the same time. Hopefully, we’re helping to put the city on the foodie trail!

What can we expect from Dragonfly in Year 2?
More innovation, several new menu items, and a continued dedication to our craft. Be sure to keep an eye out for #artfulflavors!

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