After years working in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe, Chef Yuhi Fujinaga was recently tapped to be executive chef de cuisine of Bar Basque—a restaurant that gives Fujinaga a forum for one of his deepest culinary passions—the cuisine of Spain.
Fujinaga formally got into food far from Spain, with an education at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, part of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College. And he got his first experience behind the line under Hiroyuki Sakai at his French La Rochelle restaurant in Shibuya, Japan. In 2002, Fujinaga moved to New York, where he continued exploring the world of French fine dining under chefs such as Christian Delouvier of Lespinasse and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.
With a solid footing in classical cuisine, Fujinaga joined Chef Ed Brown as executive sous chef of The Sea Grill, all the while intermittently traveling, researching, and working at various Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain. It was in these Spanish restaurants—such as Ramiro’s in Valladolid and Casa Solla in Galicia—that Fujinaga developed a strong passion for Spanish cuisine.
When he returned to New York, Fujinaga continued his work with Brown at Eighty One and even assisted in the opening of seafood eatery, Ed’s Chowder House. But when Terry Zarikian was developing a concept to showcase the Basque region of Spain, Chef Fujinaga approached Zarikian almost immediately. The two traveled Spain together, exploring the Basque region and tasting their way through its inspiring restaurants. The menu of Bar Basque reflects not only that trip, but Fujinaga’s cumulative experience—his strong foundation of classical French cooking, his exploration of the Galician and Basque regions of Spain, and that chef’s appreciation for the juxtaposition of contemporary and classical elements that define and drive cuisine.