Roy Yamaguchi

Culinary pioneer

Founder of Roy’s Restaurants 

Roy Yamaguchi is an American James Beard Award winning chef, restaurateur, author, and media personality based in Honolulu, Hawaii. He took the memories of his childhood — growing up on an American military base in Japan, his father's Hawaii roots and his training in classic French cuisine to create his own, uniquely personal style of modern Hawaii Inspired, Internationally Influenced cuisine.

He is the chef and founder of Roy's Restaurants, Roy's Beach House, Eating House 1849, Humble Market Kitchin, and GOEN Dining + Bar.

Yamaguchi was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. His Hawaii roots are tied to his paternal grandfather who started a tavern and the Yamaguchi General Store in Wailul<u, Maui in the 1940s. He attributes his appreciation for food to his parents and grandparents.

After graduating from the CIA in 1976, he continued his training in classic French cooking by working at some of the 1980's most influential California restaurants: Lt Escoffier, LI Ermitage, Le Serene, Michael's, and Le Gourmet in the Sheraton Plaza La Reina. In 1984, Yamaguchi opened his first restaurant, 385 North, in Hollywood and in 1988, he moved to Honolulu to open the first Roy's Restaurant,

The original Roy's Restaurant in the Honolulu suburb of Hawaii Kai, launched a new and exciting shift in Hawaii's dining scene. The menu was eclectic with influences of California cuisine, classic French technique, infused with Asian flavors and local ingredients. Equally different was the idea of creating an exciting, lively dining experience with an open kitchen.

Yamaguchi was the first person from Hawaii to receive the James Beard Best Pacific Northwest Chef Award in 1993. He has earned numerous honors including California Chef of the Year (California Restaurant Writers Association), Gault-Millau Top 40 (Forbes FYI), Top 50 Cuisines in America (Conde Nast Traveler), Fine Dining Hall of Fame (Nation's Restaurant News) and the John Heckathorn Dining Excellence Award (Honolulu Magazine). In celebration of the Honolulu city and county's 100th anniversary, Yamaguchi was recognized as a Honolulu Centennial 100 Honoree which honored 100 notable residents who made a significant contribution to the city and culture.

In 2009, a 50th Anniversary of Hawaii Statehood Commission was established to honor the golden anniversary of the Aloha State. Yamaguchi was featured in the commission's 50 Voices of Statehood centerpiece project which highlighted 50 Hawaii figures who shared stories about statehood.

His public service involvement has placed him among the most influential chefs in the nation. In 2011, he was nominated by the late

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and earned a political appointment under the Obama Administration to the board of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, now known as Brand USA. He was one of eleven board members for Brand USA and has used his culinary and travel experience to help promote the U.S. as a premier travel destination. He was also part of the U.S. Department of State's American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who serve as resources to help elevate the role of culinary engagement in America's diplomatic efforts.

Yamaguchi partnered with Swiss-based MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise company and in December 2017, introduced Asian Market Kitchen, a specialty pan-Asian restaurant on board the cruise line's next-generation ship, MSC Seaside, that sails between Miami and the Caribbean. In June 2018, Yamaguchi opened a second Asian Market Kitchen restaurant on board the 2nd ship of the company's Seaside class, MSC Seaview that sails the Mediterranean and South America.

On November 1, 2018, the new Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman officially relaunched and introduced Yamaguchi's first Caribbean outpost, Eating House 1503. The restaurant and menu are based on Yamaguchi's Eating House 1849 restaurants in Hawaii and will also include Cayman inspired ingredients and cooking techniques. The 1503 in the restaurant's name marks the year Christopher Columbus spotted the Cayman Islands.

Yamaguchi is also known as a television personality, hosting six seasons of the PBS series, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi. The series was the first public television cooking series to be shot 100% on location in farms across Hawaii and was carried by 300 public television stations in all 50 states and internationally in more than 60 countries. Equally notable, he was featured on the Food Network's My Country, My Kitchen in an episode that takes him back to his roots in Japan. Yamaguchi also competed as one of twelve of the nation's most notable chefs in Bravo's Top Chef Masters.

He has published four cookbooks: Pacific Bounty, Roy's Feasts from Hawaii, Hawaii Cooks.' Flavors from Roy's Pacific Rim Kitchen and Roy's Fish and Seafood.

Yamaguchi is a co-founder and co-chair with chef Alan Wong and Denise Yamaguchi, of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. The annual festival is Hawaii's premier food and wine destination event.

His other community work includes the establishment of the Tom and Warren Matsuda Scholarship Fund, a scholarship for students to attend the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and founding the Roy's Annual Golf Classic. The tournament has raised more than $800,000 for Imua Family Services and celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017.

Yamaguchi has served or serves as a trustee or board member for the U.S.-Japan Council, Go For Broke National Education Center, the Culinary Institute of America, and the Culinary Institute of the Pacific.