Rising Star Chef Seiji Wakabayashi of Nandina - Biography

Dallas, TX

November 2011

As a boy growing up in Japan, 2007 San Francisco Rising Star Chef Seiji Wakabayashi was inspired by watching the interaction between his mother and her guests at their small family restaurant in Japan. He knew immediately that he wanted to become a chef and skipped school to work at a French restaurant, Kihachi, in Tokyo, where he learned from chef Kimachi Kumagaya how to be a free spirit in the kitchen and cook without boundaries.

He moved to the States in the ‘90s and spent two years with Wolfgang Puck at Spago, an experience which reinforced his already established commitment to starting everything from scratch each day. He led the re-launch of Ondine’s in Sausalito from 1999-2001 then opened two restaurants in Dallas – but the beauty and culture of the West Coast drew him back, as did restaurateur and businessman Takumi “Tak” Matsuba, with whom he designed and opened the Michelin-starred Bushi-Tei.

Wakabayashi applies his Japanese sensibilities to European technique and ingredients for beautiful and delicate dishes. He is currently the Chef at Nandina in Dallas, TX.