2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Chef Mayumi Hattori of Straight Wharf

2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Chef Mayumi Hattori of Straight Wharf
April 2014

Mayumi Hattori had all the foundations of a would-be chef—an early, innate affinity for cooking; a rich cultural food heritage; and a grandmother eager for her help in the kitchen. But, like many chefs, it would take some years for Hattori’s passion to crystallize (26, to be precise). Hattori realized her job in retail management was not fulfilling and decided to make a change.

Graduating from the California Culinary Academy in 2002, Hattori honed her craft under mentors Chef Alex Scrimger in Los Angeles, Amanda Lydon, and 2006 Boston Rising Star Chef Gabriel Frasca in Boston. Hattori briefly staged at other restaurants in Los Angeles, including Lucques, A.O.C, and Providence. She has also worked for Tony Maws at Craigie Street Bistrot (now Craigie on Main) and Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer at Toro. Finally finding a home on the East Coast, and at the helm of Frasca’s Straight Warf in Nantucket, Hattori’s early interactions with food are having their impact, coalescing with years of formal training. The result is a Zen-like sensibility with refined, New England cuisine that at its best is pure and un-manipulated.

Interview with Coastal New England Rising Star Chef Mayumi Hattori of Straight Wharf – Nantucket, MA

Antoinette Bruno: How did you get your start?
Mayumi Hattori: At my grandmother’s knee. She did all the cooking. She was amazing at culling a lot of flavor out of nothing. As early as I remember I was drawn to it, and whatever she needed, I was always there. It was something I had an affinity for. But professionally, I didn’t get started until 26. I didn’t think I ever wanted to do it professionally. I didn’t think it was a “real” job. When I was getting into it, it was just the start of the food trend, so it wasn’t something that most people did. I didn’t think of it as being a career choice. I hated my job in retail management and decided to make a change. It’s challenging and difficult, but it’s creative and you get to actually do something and the output is so satisfying. I’ve always been hospitality oriented. I’ve always loved taking care of people, having dinner parties.

AB: How do you contribute to the larger food community?                                            
MH: I take time with our local farmers and brewers and actually get my hands in the dirt and weeds and stuff. I’m trying to put something into place with the Boys & Girls Club this winter [on Nantucket], trying to show them healthy cooking.

AB: What has been your proudest professional accomplishment so far?                                         
MH: At the end of the night, if my team is happy and if I made the guests happy, there’s always something else to strive for, but truly that’s what makes me happy. Last year I did a Trimboch wine pairing and he was thrilled with the dinner I made, and that was the first big “thing” I had to do, create a menu for that and make it totally different. And I love his wines, so to be able to shake his hand and make food for his wine, that was totally awesome.

AB: Who has been your mentors?                                                                                   
MH: My grandmother…Gabriel Frasca…Alex Scrimger was the first real chef I worked for [in LA], he was so young and just cooked from the heart. His aesthetic was so simple, he didn’t really manipulate the food much. I try to channel that.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?                                                                                              
MH: I have no idea. Here. Life is always an adventure. Might want to open my own place eventually, something small. This is a beast, and I thoroughly enjoy it, but it might be nice to cook a little more personally. I love that I can spend time with growers and put my hands in the dirt, but it would be nice to translate that more directly to the plate.