Kuniko Yagi of Sona
401 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Like many chefs, Kuniko Yagi came to food in a roundabout way, cutting her teeth in a finance career in her native Japan before realizing that the humdrum world of banking didn’t whet her appetite . Ever the optimist, Yagi left Japan and the banking world behind her shortly after, hoping to find professional inspiration in that storied jungle of opportunity, America.
Landing a server’s position at a Japanese noodle house in LA might not seem like a stroke of luck, but for Yagi, the position was pivotal to her future career. There she discovered her innate affinity for gastronomy. The energy of the kitchen and the sheer pleasure of a well-prepared meal made a huge impression on this former banker: the food world was where she belonged.
A stroke of luck did come the day Yagi was communicating this very enthusiasm to a patron of the noodle house—a patron who just happened to be none other than Chef David Myers of LA’s Sona. Moved by Yagi’s passion and zeal, Myers suggested she test her culinary aspirations in his kitchen.
Not only did Yagi rise to the challenge—an untrained cook in one of the city’s most famed professional kitchens—she blossomed. Impressed by her natural affinity for cooking, and her ease in the breakneck pace of the kitchen, Myers offered Yagi a coveted full-time position at Sona. Not surprisingly, it took Yagi a mere three years to rise from the amuse station to sous chef, and in 2007 she was promoted to chef de cuisine, a role which allows her to lead other cooks and actively support Myers’ culinary viewpoint at Sona.