Raised in a Japanese household where traditional food was an integral part of his heritage and culture, Chef Gene Kato grew up with a passion for food and knew from a young age that he wanted to cook professionally. Soon after receiving his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, he traveled to Japan.
While in Japan, Kato honed his knowledge of Japanese cuisine and learned to appreciate the true fundamentals on which all Japanese cuisine is built. In addition to the highly-skilled chefs he trained under in Japan, Kato cites the renowned Joel Robuchon as an inspiration.
Upon returning to the United States, Kato worked as Chef de Cuisine at Mimosa Grill in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also worked as Chef de Cuisine for the multi-unit concept Upstream before relocating to Chicago.
While in Chicago he was involved in opening four restaurants over a span of eight years. In 2003, he became the executive chef and partner of the highly acclaimed Chicago outpost of Japonais restaurant.
Over the past five years, Kato has been featured in numerous national and international publications and was named a StarChefs.com 2005 Chicago Rising Star Chef. In 2007, Kato participated in the panel of chefs at the Culinary R&D Conference in Los Angeles, which also included Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Kato exhibited his talent to an audience of corporate chefs and research and development executives with his vision for the future of Japanese cuisine.
Kato's culinary vision is the product of traditional Japanese dishes infused with European sensibility. With a strong foundation, and a wellspring of innovation and passion, Kato has begun to expand his own brand, Dashi, and continues to change the way the world views modern Japanese cuisine.