Rising Star Chef Masato Shimizu of 15 East - Biography

New York, NY

2007

Masato Shimizu’s exposure to the art of sushi began in his native Japan when, at age five, he watched his sushi chef uncle gut and fillet a whole tuna. His interest in Japanese cuisine (and large knives) sufficiently piqued, he moved to Tokyo to carry out a seven-year apprenticeship with Sukeroku sushi master Rikio Kugo. After he completed his training, Shimizu moved to New York where he worked at Jewel Bako for four years before leaving to open 15 East with chef/owner Marco Moreira of Tocqueville.

Shimizu’s creativity stems from tradition and an impressive depth of knowledge; his skills and philosophy are focused on honoring the freshest ingredients. With subtle techniques, Shimizu transforms the texture and flavor of familiar ingredients: red snapper sashimi is shocked in an ice bath to condense the flesh and flavor before being served with ponzu and slivers of yuzu. Ikura (salmon roe) is marinated in dashi for an added element of bright, sweet intensity, and most notably, Madako octopus is massaged 500 times with an exfoliating salt rub before being poached for exactly 40 minutes and sliced into cross-sections of tender, almost gelatinous flesh. From his place behind the often silent and intimidating sushi bar, Shimizu engages his customers in the process, explaining the reasoning behind cutting and storage techniques, or using a book to show the exact section of the fish he serves.

Slices of Japanese snapper are shocked in salted ice water to tighten and bring out the flavor of the flesh then decorated with yuzu and ponzu; a marinade of aromatic dashi mellows the saltiness of salmon roe, and highlights the sweetness of the eggs. With cultivated, sophisticated creativity like this, it's no surprise Shimizu was named a 2007 StarChefs.com New York Rising Star.