HomeCook Mai’s Story

For Mai, cooking is part science, part craftsmanship and part artistry. “If you share your culinary creation with someone you love, you get immediate feedback, and that feeling is pretty wonderful.” Mai’s specialties include an array of Asian, Japanese and fusion feasts.

Born in Kobe, Japan, to a fervent, food-loving couple, Mai’s childhood, family bonding always transpired over a decadent dish. These early, formative experiences set her on the path to chase her dreams of becoming a cook. “Food was something we always spoke fondly of and we truly enjoyed special moments over family meals.”

Naturally, her family taught her how to cook from a tender age. “As soon as I was tall enough to see the top of the kitchen counter, I was quickly minted as mom’s mini sous-chef. I truly loved being in the kitchen with her, and even though my tiny, helping hands offered assistance, they were more likely to create a mess.”

Mai’s childhood was filled with many a happy, Sunday mornings over scrumptious, homemade pancakes. The whole family would gather around the table as each garnished their own piping, fresh off the griddle stack with butter, maple syrup, fruits, barriers and dollops of whipped cream. Of course, breakfast was the most opportune time to discuss important family matters, like what was for lunch, and what would be served for dinner. At her childhood home, food was not only a source of nourishment, but also a language of love that she learned to speak fluently.

Her favorite food memory is based around snow crab season in Japan. While Kobe is known for some of the best octopi and red snappers, due to the warm waters of the inland sea, snow crab isn’t part of the repertoire. “In the dead of winter, it was quite special when the northern part of the prefecture was covered in snow. We’d make the five-hour long car-trek just to buy snow crabs from the small crabbing villages up north.”

They’d leave the house before dawn with their big cooler box in tow, buy the coveted crabs, have a speedy lunch, and quickly head back. Once home, the breaking down of the crabs commenced immediately and dinner began to simmer and boil in the ‘nabe’ (hot pot). “We would eat late into the night, grazing at the table for hours, enveloped in the sweet fragrance of the crab.” With each trip to the fishmonger, Mai is still reminded of those cozy “crabby” day trips and nocturnal nabe, crab dinners.

“I’m beyond excited to have an opportunity to share my food with others as a HomeCook. My sincere hope is that each time my dishes are enjoyed, small spoon and forkfuls of my Japanese heritage are experienced in every bite.”

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