As a young boy, Mori worked on his family’s farm in the small town of Fujisawa, in Japan’s Northern Iwate Prefecture. He watched his grandmother grow different types of seasonal foods in order to prepare the household staples of rice, soy sauce, miso, Japanese pickles, and a variety of vegetables. Her traditional methods in handcrafting these foods made from local and seasonal ingredients influenced Mori’s philosophy during the years he trained as a sushi chef in Tokyo, and at seminal Los Angeles restaurants Katsu, R-23, Matsuhisa, Takao and Hatsuhana in NY.
By the time he opened his first restaurant, Mori Sushi in Los Angeles, he was preparing many of the same handmade ingredients, harvesting his own locally grown rice and creating handmade pottery to be used in the restaurant. Mori’s interest in pottery developed from his exposure first to the Japanese artist Mineo Mizuno and later to Rosanjin Kitaoji, who created a new language for the pairing of pottery with food. Rosanjin believed that pottery and food are akin to a beautiful, well-dressed woman. Or, to switch genders, that the “clothes make the man.”
After selling Mori Sushi in 2011, Mori began creating handmade pottery for several Michelin Guide restaurants in Los Angeles, and The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa where he prepared a dinner for the annual 12 Days of Christmas in 2012.
Mori’s belief that rice is one of the most important foods to cultivate properly, led to his partnership with rice farmer, Ichiro Tamaki. Tamaki farms in Uruguay will harvest its first crop in May of 2013 and will be available for distribution worldwide.
For Mori, a simple and balanced approach is the best way to create good food.