Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura of Maido - Biography

Lima, Peru

September 2016

Born in Lima and of Japanese-Peruvian descent, Mitsuharu Tsumura can’t remember a time when food and cooking weren’t a central part of his life. But it took a little nudging from his father to realize that he could make his inherited fondness of cuisine into a career. With direction and determination, young Tsumura passed his final exams and applied to culinary school. Switching hemispheres, he traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to attend Johnson & Wales University.  

Tsumura returned to his hometown after graduation with his mind set on opening a restaurant concept that included sushi. Again, his father stepped in with some practical advice that would have Tsumura switching hemispheres once more. This time he left Lima for Japan to learn the art and craft of sushi.  Even though he spoke Japanese and his grandparents were living there, he still experienced culture shock, especially in the strict Japanese kitchens, where his diplomas and experience counted for nothing.   

Thanks to a friend of his grandfather, 21-year-old Tsumura met the owner of Seto Sushi, and was given the opportunity to learn as an unpaid apprentice. It would be months before Tsumura was permitted to touch a knife, let alone food. He spent nearly three years working his way from pot washer to knife sharpener to reception and fabrication to family meal and finally to the bar, first preparing hot dishes, and only after that: sushi.      

Tsumura was called back to Peru by Sheraton to join the team at their Lima hotel. He was promoted to sous chef and then to food and beverage manager. And by the time he was 28, he was invited to become the general manager of the hotel. Not only had Tsumura proven himself to Sheraton, but to his father as well, who once again stepped in to guide his son toward his dream. Tsumura declined the invitation, which would have made him the youngest GM of a Sheraton Hotel in the world. With the support of his steadfast father, he opened Maido instead. Combining traditional Japanese cooking with Peruvian ingredients, Maido introduced Nikkei cuisine to the world and gave Peru one of its finest restaurants. For Tsumura, Maido is an expression of the ongoing story of Peru, nourishing guests with memory and imagination.