2022 D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Masako Morishita of Maxwell Park

2022 D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Masako Morishita of Maxwell Park

Maxwell Park
1336 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001


Almost a century ago, Masako Morishita’s grandparents opened a restaurant and bar in Kobe, Japan. Her family has continued to operate and live above that restaurant for three generations. But before Morishita decided to follow in her family’s footsteps, she moved to Washington, D.C. to become a professional cheerleader. 

She performed with the Washington Football cheerleading team for five years, eventually becoming captain, while cooking in her free time. Then in 2019, Morishita decided she wanted to add a fresh take of Japanese flavors to the D.C. food scene. She craved something more comforting and casual—something her mother would have cooked for her family. This idea inspired her pop-up series, Otabe, meaning “mom encouraging kids to eat,” which was aimed towards introducing Japanese comfort food to the D.C. area.

In 2021, Morishita was offered an opportunity to interview for a role at Maxwell Park. The wine bar’s owner, Rising Stars alumBrent Kroll, was so impressed by her culinary voice and passion for the industry that he offered her the role of executive chef. So, Morishita traded her day job as an accountant for a Japanese media company for her dream job—a full-time role in the kitchen, cooking the food she grew up with. Now as executive chef for both Maxwell Park’s Shaw and Navy Yard locations, Morishita’s mission remains the same as it was when she started Otabe: using the connective power of food to transport guests inside her family’s home in Japan.