Working at a sushi restaurant in your early 20s isn’t the typical source of life-changing inspiration. But for Tyson Cole, it was more than enough. The young Cole became so fascinated with the culture and cuisine of Japan that he dedicated himself to learning everything about it. And Cole had natural skills to go along with that passion, demonstrating dexterity with the knife that took him from dishwasher to head sushi chef.
Unsurprisingly, Cole’s next move was to Austin's top sushi restaurant, Musashino, where he completed an intensive traditional apprenticeship under owner Takehiko Fuse. Fuse would prove a pivotal influence on Cole, bringing him to Japan to improve his skills and knowledge of the cuisine and, perhaps most importantly, learn the language and thus better understand the culture. Cole brought this native knowledge to one of New York’s busiest, choicest sushi restaurants, Bond Street, before completing his last year at Musashino, where he began experimenting with new ideas about flavors, influences, and ingredients, running the restaurant in Fuse’s absence.
In May of 2003, Cole’s decade of training and dedication paid off when the chef opened Uchi, the restaurant that would showcase Cole's gift of marrying global ingredients and flavors with traditional Japanese cuisine and earn him a spot on Food & Wine “Best New Chefs 2005” list. With three restaurants—Cole opened Uchiko in 2010 and Uchi Houston in early 2012, a cookbook (published in March of 2011), a James Beard Award, and a 2012 StarChefs.com Rising Star Award under his belt, Cole might be expected to sit on his laurels. But Cole attends to the sushi bar every night, conversing with patrons, intuiting their wishes, and using razor sharp knives at rapid speed to turn out works of edible art.