March 16, 2021

From NFL Cheerleader to Pop-Up Chef - Masako Morishita Brings Japanese Comfort Food to Washington D.C. with Her Pop-Up Restaurant Otabe

From NFL Cheerleader to Pop-Up Chef - Masako Morishita Brings Japanese Comfort Food to Washington D.C. with Her Pop-Up Restaurant Otabe

On this week’s show, I speak with Masako Morishita. Originally from Kobe, Japan, Masako’s family has owned and operated a bar and restaurant there for 90 years, and food has always been a part of her life, though she never worked as a cook. Growing up, she was interested in dancing and cheerleading, and in 2013 she moved to Washington D.C. to be a NFL cheerleader for the Washington Football Team (formerly, the Redskins), and was even a captain in her fifth year.

She has always enjoyed cooking at home, and would regularly cook for her friends. Not able to find the food she grew up eating, in 2019 she decided to start Otabe, a pop-up in Washington D.C. that focuses on Japanese comfort food, which she hopes to turn into a more permanent endeavor. 

We talk about moving to, and touring the world with the NFL, the future of Otabe, a few of her favorite cookbooks, and of course, Japanese cooking including okonomiyaki, dashi and cooking with donabe.

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Masako Morishita
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The Otabe Instagram https://www.instagram.com/otabe_dc/

The Otabe Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/otabeDC

Toiro Kitchen and Donabe https://toirokitchen.com/

Donabe Cookbook https://amzn.to/30MB3y2

The Gaijin Cookbook https://amzn.to/3rOt9jz

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Transcript

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. Their caterers, research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself phone to the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 10 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. On this week's show. I speak with Masako Morishita. Originally from Kobe, Japan, Masako's family has owned and operated a bar and restaurant there for over 90 years, and food has always been a part of her life, though she never worked as a cook. Growing up, she was interested in dancing and cheerleading, and in 2013, she moved to Washington DC to be an NFL cheerleader for the Washington football team (formerly the Redskins), and was even a captain in her fifth year. She's always enjoyed cooking at home and would regularly cook for her friends. Not able to find the food she grew up eating, in 2019, she decided to start Otabe, a pop up in Washington DC, that focused on Japanese comfort food, which she hopes to turn into a more permanent endeavor. We talked about moving to and touring the world with the NFL, the future of Otabe, a few of her favorite cookbooks and of course, Japanese cooking, including okonomiyaki, dashi and cooking with a Donabe. And once again, I recently started a Patreon to support the Chefs Without Restaurants, organization, and podcast. So if you love what I'm doing here, please check it out. You can go to patreon.com/ChefsWithoutRestaurants, or the link is in the show notes. I really appreciate the support. And now on with the show. Thanks so much for listening, and have a great week. Hey, Masako, welcome to the show.

Masako Morishita:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Chris Spear:

I'm excited to talk to you. I love your food. From what I can see on Instagram. I haven't made it out to one of your events yet, but it's on the top of my list when we can start dining out.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, thankyou so much.

Chris Spear:

So I usually start the show by jumping right in to find out a little bit about your background as relates to food and cooking. So where did you grow up in Japan? Can you talk a little bit about where you grew up? And then, you know, were you always interested in food and cooking?

Masako Morishita:

Yes. So um, I was born and raised in Japan, I actually moved to Washington, DC 2013. And obviously, my entire my entire family still live in Japan. So I'm the only one actually being here in the States. So I grew up in a city called Kobe, which a lot of people know for Kobe beef. So I grew up there. I didn't move anywhere else. So I was like, basically born raised in Kobe, Japan. Kobe is about 45 minutes train ride from Osaka and from Tokyo, it would be an hour plane right or three hours bullet train, right. So it's like a little bit of center to west side of Japan, is where Kobe is located. Actually, my family has a family business, which is a little bit of a liquor store, and then bar restaurant. So that place were founded by my grandfather 88 years ago. Oh, wow. Yeah. And then my father actually inherited it. I'm still running the business nowadays to with this COVID situation. They're going strong. Still. Which I'm really happy about. So the little restaurant bar is very tiny. It's like a standing bar style. We have probably like, I'd say, like 200 square feet. It's very, very tiny. But it's like a gathering place for neighborhood people, people who get off work. So I've been around like those customers like since literally I was born because the restaurant bar is owned by my mom and my dad, and we didn't have any employee or anybody like that. So basically, I was a flea raber So, um, probably since like three or four years old, I remember I was standing in the store helping them out, like putting a stick sticker to like some products and items. I was peeling potatoes, my mom. Yeah, so I just, um, the the cooking and food. And this industry's always part of my life since as long as I remember.

Chris Spear:

So my kids are eight years old. Are you saying I should have them right now starting with me get put them put them to work?

Masako Morishita:

Well, if you want, but like for me, he helped me so much to have this career because I still remember what I learned from my mom and my grandma. Yeah, so so that restaurant, food or bar food is basically the old recipe is developed by my mom and my grandma. So that's like, huge inspiration for me Still, I still use those recipes. And I put like some of my twist to my food to make it interesting. Like make it something you know, a little bit modern. Yeah. So that's, that's my background. So I did not go to like coronary school, anything like that. But um, everything I learned is from my mom and my grandma, who I think was the best teacher.

Chris Spear:

So how did you end up in DC?

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, so it was kind of like very unique story. The life I had in Japan. I was not cooking. You know, of course, I've been helping out my family my entire life. But I didn't have cooking as my job. So I went to college, I graduated I I start working for some company, nothing related to cooking. But I was I I've been dancing since I was college. And I was a cheerleader in Japan. So my dream was to try out for NFL cheerleader some day. So that's actually ended up in DC. So 2013 I came to DC with just probably like one one and a half like suitcase. With things in it. I tried out for now the name is Washington Football Club. The back day was called Washington Redskins. So I tried out for the team. And for some reason I made it. So I had to relocate it like right away, which I really do not think it's going to happen. But you know, it happened good way. So that's why I moved to DC Actually,

Chris Spear:

that's quite an interesting story there.

Unknown:

You

Chris Spear:

were you interested in American football when you were living in Japan? Or was it just the you are?

Masako Morishita:

Yes, I was. Um, but of course, you know, for me, main thing was dancing and cheering, so I didn't really care much about football. I remember I think the year before I tried out. They have a great year with a RG three, I think they went to the playoff. So actually the first year I tried out, which is 2013. We had a lot of participants actually trying out for the audition. So it was, you know, quite tough, tough process. But I made it for some reason. And I stayed on team for five years, and I didn't I ended up being a captain on my fifth year and last year. So yeah, it was great experience. And you know, I'm really thankful this experience actually brought me to this area, Washington DC and I love the city as well, too.

Chris Spear:

You got to see the whole country right because you toured with them, I'm assuming.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, so I get to travel not only just within the United States, I actually was able to travel like, you know, a lot of different countries. I've been to Kosovo. I've been to South Korea, Naples, Italy, rota Spain, Mexico, and then Alaska during the Superbowl time, which was in

Chris Spear:

February. Very cold I'm sure

Masako Morishita:

very cold but um, yeah, those are the great experiences on most of the travel or related to military base visits. So sometime I go with other redskin cheerleaders, sometime I go with cheerleaders and players from different teams, so traveling with like different people. It was just Amazing. And me, you know, it was a nice way to think the servicemen and women. So it was very rewarding.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, a very unique experience I'm sure most people haven't had. Yes, yes. So I know about you now, through your pop up dinners you've been doing, I'd love to hear more about how that came about. And you know what your style is with the food.

Masako Morishita:

So my style food is Japanese, I'd say Japanese comfort food. Right now I'm not focusing on just one dish, I tried to create something, I feel authentic to me. So that's how I decided to do my reason, business otava. You know, like, since I moved to DC, it was a little bit of a struggle that I could not find. The food I use grew up eating the food I used to make with my mom and my grandma. So you know, a lot of people think Japanese food as ramen was sushi that's very, very popular here. But as Japanese like we don't eat those every single day. And then when I you know, when I made some Japanese like dishes to my my friends, when I first moved here, they were very surprised. They're like, is this Japanese food like I never eaten food like this before. So I'm, that's what I'm trying to do. Like I wanted to introduce my culture and my food to to the people who never experienced that before.

Chris Spear:

And how much of your food is traditional versus your own kind of spin or modern twists on it,

Masako Morishita:

it's almost all traditional. But the, for me, what I care about is I care more about authenticity. So you know, my mom and my grandma, they were the chefs. But they didn't do only traditional Japanese cuisine. It was more like bar food. The food it goes well the drinks that we sell. So most of the flavor and inspiration the dish actually coming from that. So it's not much too crazy twist. But I tried to make it like something interesting. Like the dish I created. Not too long ago, I it was one of the first menu. Other pop up I did in last October at Mercy me in Washington DC. It was a daikon radish dish. So I prepped the daikon and I pre cooked the daikon in very traditional Japanese way. But what I did was I put the cheese on the top. And then I seared on the top of the cheese to mouth and put it on a chicken broth. That's like some combination that we don't really see in our Japanese traditional food. But I just wanted to make like something a little bit more interesting using Japanese technique and ingredients. So that's that's like the my favorite way to approach creating a new dish.

Chris Spear:

What's the reception been to the pop up so people enjoyed them?

Masako Morishita:

I think so well, I don't get to talk to every single person of course. You know, when I when I post something, you know, think people about coming to my pop up, I usually get the positive you know, feedback. So I'm hoping like people enjoy the meal. And of course, you know, most importantly I want people to enjoy the experience and the time so as long as they have fun like that's, that's a win for me.

Chris Spear:

And what are some of your favorite dishes from your childhood?

Masako Morishita:

Um, I'll say let's see karaage which is Japanese fried chicken is definitely my favorite which I still cook for the pop up a lot of times and my mom had a very distinct it's the way prepping so I do that I can't really tell you much about it. It's a little bit of secret and um, that you know kombu broth, or like the dried mushroom broth, like anything use you know, any dish like my mom used with a broth Of course like miso soup. I mean a lot of times like we use those broth into like making Japanese curry and things like that.

Chris Spear:

How complicated is it to make the broth because it seems like that's the starting point for so many of the dishes that I see is not that hard or

Masako Morishita:

not at all. So if you have a time, what you can do is you know I recommend using not to tap water. But you know you can use like some container like Ford or something, put the piece of combo and fill the water and just put it in the fridge Overnight, and it's done.

Chris Spear:

Oh, that that's sounds really easy,

Masako Morishita:

very easy. You don't even have to do it. Like when you're in rush, there's like certain way like you can try as well. Which is you, you simmer. You use similar water with a combo for like, you know, a little while, and it can be done that way as well. But kombu like if you boil it too hard, that the bitterness like harshness from the crumble usually comes out. So what do you want to do is you just don't want to boil it at all. Just want to say, Oh,

Chris Spear:

yeah, I've only made it a couple times, like a dashi broth. And I don't know, I feel like I should be making it more often. I don't know why.

Masako Morishita:

It's great with everything like you can make, um, you know, I think one time I made vichyssoise with the kombu.

Chris Spear:

Oh, that sounds delicious.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah. And it's great. And then if you want you can add it to you know, when you cook the rice, you can add like those roulston into the rice as well.

Chris Spear:

Are there any misconceptions about Japanese food and cooking like things that you keep hearing over and over? Just when when you say you cook Japanese food, things that? I mean, I know you talked about, we all think that it's just sushi and ramen, but are there any other misconceptions about it?

Masako Morishita:

Not really. in DC, I feel like people in Washington DC are very well educated and on different cuisines. So they seems like they have like a lot more understanding. But sometimes, like, you know, like, I was asked, like, Hi, do you do? Do you make any this dish and that dish was actually Chinese?

Chris Spear:

Everything gets, like, lumped lumped in together. Right?

Masako Morishita:

Exactly. It's a lot of like, mix up. So I think that's probably about it. But like I said, like, you know, people tend to think Japanese food is like a sushi or ramen.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, it's, it's just funny. Like, people lump things together like Asian, like, they'll say, I like Asian food, or I don't like Asian food. You know, it's like, it's such are we talking? You know, like kimchi, which is Korean? Are we talking like Vietnamese profiles? And I think in general, a lot of people tend to lump them together, you know, because, like, I do catering. So I'll ask people what they like, and they just very blanketly say, you know, like, I like Asian food or I like or I don't like Asian food. It's like, a huge chunk of the mass

Masako Morishita:

very vague, like very wide, you know, range the range of things you can

Chris Spear:

even regional. I mean, how much does the cuisine differ within the country? I'm sure from our as it like provinces, or what do you call the different areas of Japan like

Masako Morishita:

yeah, there is actually. Yeah, so um, the Japanese pancake I like to make is what's called okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is mainly based in Osaka, Kobe, you know, the states we call it prefecture, around Osaka. And in Tokyo, they have a little bit of like, it's not very similar, but like different kind of like, the pancake ish dish. So yeah, like and then Hiroshima, which is probably like less than two hours away from Osaka. They have here Shima style pancakes. So each region have a different style. And the soy sauce we use in Osaka Cove area and soy sauce. In Tokyo area uses are slightly different to the economy.

Chris Spear:

Okonomiyaki is one of my all time favorite things and I only discovered it like five years ago. And it's like, Where's this been my whole life and now it's one of those things every time I see it on a menu, it's one of those things I have to get. I've tried making it at home I mean, I nobody's ever taught me so it's just like reading books and watching videos. I have to use like the powdered mix. I know there's more traditional ways than kind of that bag mix. But um, yeah, I just I love it and I wish I don't know I wish I'd found it like 10 years ago or 20 years ago because it's so fantastic.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, and then you can play play around so much you know with a different topping. The why I usually made is more like authentic like traditional one. So I use like thin sliced pork belly. That's like very basic, traditional like omega one type ingredients, but you can have you can use like cheese. You can use like shrimp. You can put kimchi and you know of course mushroom like you did that the pancakes itself is so plain. It's just the cabbage

Chris Spear:

pancake. Maybe you'll think this is horrible. But I did like play on corned beef and cabbage. I did corned beef and brussel sprouts. So I liked I did like a shift a nod of the brussel sprouts and just the cabbage and I already had some like cooked corned beef so I put it on and then when you flipped it you know it gets those like carmelized chili Yeah, brown beef and I was like is amazing, but I'm sure there's some people who think this is just like a total bastardization of their food.

Masako Morishita:

Oh, no, no, no, no, like, I really like so what I really love about like seeing like some, you know, people in the states cook Japanese food is that there's like a something I never think about, you know, the ingredients, or the how the project that's really at that actually really excites me, and really makes me happy.

Chris Spear:

Well, we have such availability of products, especially in big areas like DC, I mean, whatever cuisine in the world, you can find a market. You know, it's like, I love Ethiopian food. Like, I don't know how many cities around the country, you can find Ethiopian markets, but in DC, you can go in and just find all this stuff. And like being a kid in a candy store, you're just like, wow, I gotta try all this. I gotta buy all that stuff and just start, you know, trying to.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, this is great. Like, it's so International. Like you said, I feel like I could try more different cuisine that I did in Japan here. Like, if you've been food, it's not really familiar to Japanese people. So I really didn't find like, a lot of restaurants in Japan. But here like you said, there's like a lot of great restaurants. Yeah, so it's, it's super fun. Like, I love it.

Chris Spear:

So what are your plans? For a top a? Are you looking to continue doing pop ups? Would you ever set out to open your own brick and mortar restaurant? Do you have your sights set on anything?

Masako Morishita:

You know, since I'm doing pop up, I still actually have a regular office job as a full time job. So my goal is to quit my full time job. And my goal is to open a little WebSocket bar, Japanese socket bar with a very good snacks. It's like my, what my family does in Japan. So that's my goal. So doing pop up here and there is for people to get to know me and my food, and also educate people of different type of Japanese food, other than sushi and ramen. So I'm hoping like I can get to the goal soon. But until then, I'll I'll just keep doing pop up.

Chris Spear:

You did some throughout COVID, didn't you?

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, yeah, I did takeaways. I still did some dinner series. And I was I was doing some collaboration. Yeah. So I try to find something I can do still. It's it's been a little bit difficult, of course. But um, you know, they're still still away. And still, there's a people who wants to eat my food. I'll cook out I'll definitely I mean, I'll keep cooking for them as well.

Chris Spear:

Do you cook in your free time a lot?

Masako Morishita:

Every day?every single day. I barely take deliveries or take outs. I really like to cook. I mean, I really enjoy cooking in general. So yeah, I don't mind cooking are all like I almost cook every day. Are you

Chris Spear:

cooking Japanese food? Are you cooking everything? Like do you make a lasagna?

Masako Morishita:

Ah, I probably did. Sometimes, but even with making lasagna, I still put like some Japanese ingredients in it though. I put I put on some like soy sauce tomari in a mix with some miso to make it a little bit more different flavor. So even though I make um, you know, non Japanese cuisine, I still I still sneak into some like, you know, Japanese, like in there. To make it a little bit different.

Chris Spear:

I have trouble not tinkering with things. It's just like how I like to cook like today. I made a basket cheese cake. Have you seen the basket? Yeah. Right. And I made it and it was delicious. I made it traditional. But then I was like, I wonder what miso paste would taste like in here. Like if you just like mixed in some miso in there. It's like, I don't know, should I just let it go and have it be what it's traditional. But like that's just not me. Like once I make it one or two times the way it was meant to be I just have to start throwing stuff in there. And yeah, that's how I am.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, I think that's that's how I you know, cook dishes too. I love doing that. It's It's so much fun. And so original. And by the way for the cheesecake. If you have a user juice, that's really really tasty to some like citrus.

Chris Spear:

Now what do you use for yuzu juice? Are you buying like bottled concentrate? Because I've read so much about like, you know, the different user juices you can buy and that so many of them aren't really good. Like, do you have a recommendation for that?

Masako Morishita:

So I'm the one I really like is the one I get from Japanese vendors. So I don't think all you can buy at the store. But if you wanted to buy at the store, just try it. To make sure they don't have a lot of additives, like sugar and like those things, are less additives is better? You know, of course, but um, yeah, I mean, and yuzu, we can't find it anywhere. I mean, there's like some people who grow yuzu, but not really, you know, you can't really buy in the grocery store anything like,

Chris Spear:

well, like, we have h Mart here, which is, you know, a giant grocery store, and they have so much stuff, but the, what my impression is the really good stuff isn't even in English. So I'm always looking at all these bottles, and even know what anything is, like, I don't even know what language is like, is this Korean or Japanese? You know, right. So sometimes I'll just buy a bottle of something and try it. Yeah.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah. Well, that's kind of fun, too.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, fun. Surprise. I don't think I've had any bad experiences yet. So you know, you just got to keep you just got to keep trying and doing that stuff. Yeah, absolutely. You had a opportunity to cook in the James Beard house a few years ago. How did that come about?

Masako Morishita:

So that was they had an event promoting agent street food. So I was able to cook with some of the great chefs in his course. Like Danny Lee, from ondu. And chefs from Philadelphia. She hails from New York. Yeah. And then I was picked to cook some Japanese street food, which I cook. The okonomiyaki actually, the small okonomiyaki. Yeah. That was actually a few months after I started otavi. So back then I still wasn't really, you know, I was just started figuring out like things. So, you know, like, I think a lot of people can relate to this, when you start doing something. Like you should say yes, to every opportunity you can get.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, the James Beard house is like one of those places, if you work in the food world, I think everyone would love the opportunity to cook there. And, you know, I guess figure it out. I have no idea. If they asked me how to get if they asked me to go, I have no idea how I pull it off. But I think I just say yes, and then you figure it out somewhere along the way.

Masako Morishita:

Absolutely. So you know, I was I freaked out a little bit. When I was asked, but in my dictionary, there are no no's. So I really had to say yes. And like you said, I say yes. And I figured out so it's like, um, you know, fake it until you make it right. Yeah, that's actually the one of the biggest lesson I learned from Redskins experience. You know, just get out there and do it. Exactly. Like I I'm Japanese. I'm not even, you know, American. And English was very, very hard to understand back then. So yeah, like, I just, I just say yes. And figure out later. Yeah, I just bought, like, you can't, you can't show your you're nervous or you're weak, you know, you can't show that to the world. So you just have to, like, keep showing, hey, I'm confident I can do this. Trust me, I can do this. And I like you know, usually more opportunity comes into your way. So it works, you know?

Chris Spear:

Well, I can't imagine being out on a football field like that. Like that's a whole different kind of insane like, not even just like cooking a dinner. That's you look out into a sea of people. I don't know that I could do like that.

Masako Morishita:

Like it was it was a little crazy, you know, 90,000 people's there at the game day.

Chris Spear:

That's a lot of people.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, yeah, it's a lot of people but it's like, it's great. You know, like you said, just speaking on to make it and just try to focus on having fun. And that's, that's, um, that's actually applied to cook into.

Chris Spear:

Well, how did you learn to do like restaurant cooking because it sounds like you came over here without having training or whatever, but even doing pop ups I mean, that's a lot of work. How do you transition into figuring out the logistics of working in a kitchen and a restaurant

Masako Morishita:

so I'm the preparation for doing pop up? Of course, you know, you have to test out the dishes to create the dish. But for me the biggest preparation is actually with a computer. So I sit down hours to do math create excel sheet, probably doing one pop up I my Excel sheet is probably like 1010 pages. That's a lot. Yeah, it's a lot but you know, since I don't have a my my permanent space, I cannot make any mistakes. Like I need to be perfect because for pop up. You get to like cook for a lot of people. You haven't cooked before. And I my goal is to make them our fan or my food. So in order to do that, I really need to have very, very detailed planning that makes it pop up successful.

Chris Spear:

Sounds like more intense planning than a lot of chefs I know who actually run their own restaurants in business.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, but you know, like, if you have an own restaurant, if you do it every day, you know, that's you part of your your your nature. But for me, since I don't have a restaurant, I don't do pop up every single day, I really need to be careful on each steps. And also, I don't have my own staff, I usually do pop up myself, or sometimes the pop up is very large pop up, I want to ask my friend to help me out. And then these people are not really used to working with me or my food. So that's why the I need to have like very specific direction ratios and everything. So I don't have to have them confused helping me out. And also I can have the dish outcome is same as I make at home.

Chris Spear:

Oh, definitely part of my Chefs Without Restaurants group is I do collaborative pop up dinners. And I did one last summer with a friend who doesn't work in food at all like he's never he's never worked in food. But he's amazing at making pasta. And similar Lee to you. He was making spreadsheets like I've never used in my life. But we took over a kitchen we had never been in before. We found a kitchen in DC I had literally never seen the kitchen before I walked in there. He told me like it was good and ready to go. And then he and I have never worked together. So like we just showed up together brand new kitchen to bang out dinner for a bunch of people. And it was like, that's kind of intimidating. That's a very different scenario than than most chefs are used to.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, I definitely relate to you. So when I do pop up, I usually go to you know, different restaurant different kitchen. So every time I do pop up is completely different environment. And then I don't I don't get to use that kitchen until I'm actually prepping for the event. So that's why that's also one of the reason I over prepare. So I prepare probably like 150% and I usually the outcome is 100% so that's that's why I do it like different equipments, you know. So I tried to bring my own equipments like all the time because I wanted to feel comfortable as well.

Chris Spear:

working as an in home personal chef, I know that feeling every day I go into a stranger's house and even though they've told me what they have, it doesn't always match up with what I'm expecting that they have.

Masako Morishita:

Exactly, exactly. And I you know, like, if you're expecting something, and it wasn't there, at the place you have to prep or actually, you know, do dinner and things like that. It makes your work super hard. And I just don't I just don't like the feeling. I can do better. But it's really hard for me to do you know, good with this environment. I hate that. So that's why I tried to like bring awesome yeah, and I don't have a car and I don't know how to drive. So it always Uber Excel.

Chris Spear:

You don't know how to drive?

Masako Morishita:

No, no, I don't have I don't even have a license.

Chris Spear:

I mean, I guess if you're in DC, you don't really need one. But I love having my car. I know every time I talk to someone, my cousin lives in Philly and have a car and I said something like, we'll go to the grocery store. She's like you don't understand I have to like take a bus and go there. And then like I all I can bring back is like what I have that I can carry? Yeah. Sounds like a whole different set of things that I

Masako Morishita:

I know, someday, someday, someday I'll have a license. It's actually always my new year's resolution for every year for probably like past like six, seven years. But it hasn't happened yet.

Chris Spear:

We'll give you a pass. Because last year was weird. But if 2021 starts getting back to normal, go get that license. All right. Have you ever thought about doing catering or even like the personal chef thing?

Masako Morishita:

Oh, yes, I have done some private dinners. And I like doing that as well. But with this COVID situation is a little bit hard because you know a lot of family wanted to be careful. And I as well. But yeah, I've done it and I really enjoyed it a lot.

Chris Spear:

I always asked my guests, what are some of your favorite culinary resources. Like if people want to start cooking, let's say specifically Japanese food. Where would you point them cookbooks websites? Like what are what are some things you'd like to share?

Masako Morishita:

I think my favorite Japanese cookbook is called a donut cookbook, I think. So there's a place called tutorial kitchen in California. Yeah. person, I call it Mrs. De nada. So she's Japanese. She actually came to Washington, DC and did some like cooking demo. And I got to know her. And her name is now cold turkey. And her cookbook is amazing. So I highly recommend that.

Chris Spear:

Now we're doing our Bay. It's like a type of cooking vessel, correct?

Masako Morishita:

Yes.

Chris Spear:

Do you need one of those to do those recipes? Are there ways to modify that

Masako Morishita:

so with that specific cooking book, even though if you don't have it, you can substitute it using just a regular pot to make, you know, make the similar flavor. But do not be is. You know, also I highly recommend having in your house because you can, you can like literally do anything, you can make hot pot, you can make a lot of different dishes like curry, non soupy dish you can make. It's pretty amazing. So I really highly recommend that.

Chris Spear:

I'm not sure my wife's gonna let me get any more cooking equipment. I've been told like we need to know more cooking equipment, but maybe maybe I'll buy one.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, but I highly recommend um, just check out Toiro Kitchen.

Chris Spear:

Great. And I'll look that up. And I'll put it in the show notes to share with everyone.

Masako Morishita:

Yes. And I think on the other one, I liked his gaijin cookbook. Yeah, so guys, you means foreigner in Japanese. So the author of that book is Chef I chef Ivan. He actually he's American by he actually went to Japan.

Chris Spear:

Is this like Ivan ramen?

Masako Morishita:

Yes, yes, it's him. But you know, he, he opened up the ramen shop. But he knows so much about Japanese, authentic, you know, food as well. So that book is also recommended. Like it's easy for you to like start making like some Japanese Kong food. He has a lot of good recipe in there too.

Chris Spear:

Good to know, I have his ramen book, but I don't have that one. So I'll have to check

Masako Morishita:

that out. Highly recommend. Like all all the recipe. To me looks great.

Chris Spear:

Sounds like I have some new reading to do.

Masako Morishita:

Yeah, so cook is always good.

Chris Spear:

Fantastic. Well, I'll let you know how it goes. I'll take pictures of the food and post on Instagram. We're always cooking different things at home. And I've had so much more time now. That's one of the things I've enjoyed is like, you know, everyday life tends to be so busy. And while I'd like to have more going on, it's like I'm making more meals at home than I've ever made in my life. So having more time to try new things has been kind of nice.

Masako Morishita:

Absolutely. And, um, you know, a lot of people think differently about cooking. But for me, and I think for a lot of people to cooking is actually like meditating, then in a way, because you know, a lot of chaos going on right now with this circumstances, like you know, around the world. But when you cook, you focus on just making a food. You don't think anything else. So even like when I have bad day, you know, when I was going through some hard times, cooking always helped me. So if you're really new to cooking, just don't worry about it. Just get into it. And I'm I'm pretty sure you ended up liking it.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, people get so stressed out about it. I always tell them like, I don't even teach recipes. I teach techniques. But more than anything, I tell people be flexible. Like if you find a recipe, and you don't have an ingredient like think about what you can substitute, you know, calls for a jalapeno and you don't have any I'm sure it's fine to omit it. If you want some spice, put some dried chili in there. Like it's not the end of the world. I think once you do it and get used to it, you can learn how to kind of intuitively cook I think,

Masako Morishita:

yeah. And the best part is, if you make the play room the way you like, that's so rewarding.

Chris Spear:

Do you have any places you want to travel? As soon as you're able to travel? Do you have any kind of bucket list or places you hope to go soon?

Masako Morishita:

I really want to travel like in Georgia, like inside the states. Like I haven't really travel a lot of like cities yet. I always wanted to go to Nashville. Try some Southern food. And I also wanted to travel like Seattle.

Chris Spear:

I used to live in Seattle. It's amazing.

Masako Morishita:

Awesome. Yeah. So when I when I visit Alaska, for the military tour during my cheerleader days, I actually had a 12 hours Leo ring Seattle by myself. So and I went and eat some seafood and that was amazing. So I really want to go back and visit again, you know, hopefully like I can stay for a few days so I can enjoy a little bit more Then if I get to go to oversea, I definitely want to travel Europe. I, like I said, I traveled Naples and Spain, but that was through my work. So I really didn't get to enjoy a lot of like, you know, different restaurants and things like that. So yeah, that's those are the places you probably want to go. I can also go back to Japan, visit my family and all the restaurants

Chris Spear:

as well. I would love to go to Japan, I haven't even done that much international travel. I mean, I guess I've been to like London and Spain. And that's it. So I feel like I have to catch up.

Masako Morishita:

Like, you definitely should travel to Asian countries, you know, Japan, and a lot of countries around Japan is very close to like Korea, China, you know, like you get to travel a lot of different places in like, short period of time. So I highly recommend, maybe I'll have to plan on doing some pop ups or something like find a way to go over there and stay an extended period of time. Yeah, absolutely. Cook American food there.

Chris Spear:

That'd be great. American food. I mean, that's such a broad term. I mean, we do it. people from other countries, but it's like American food, what is even American food, right? Was there anything else you want to add? Before we get out of here today?

Masako Morishita:

You know, right now I'm, I'm on kind of like winter break, fostering dogs. But um, once the weather is warming up, I'm thinking about doing pop up, stop doing pop up again. So I'm hoping like, I get to see you and good cook for you. One of those pop ups. I think the next big thing I'm working on is actually doing doing pop up with my husband, who is a chef in Washington DC, Brad Deboy, the chef at Elle, we're trying to create something fun. We can't really tell you guys yet it's in the process. But we're super excited about this this concept. So hopefully, we can nail it and perfect. So we can cook for you guys pretty soon.

Chris Spear:

Well, I'll tell you that is one of my favorite places in DC. It's one of the places I recommend the most. I also love that they're open for lunch. You know, I, I don't always get into the city at night for dinner. And I think that, you know, there's a lack of good and interesting places to eat, you know, all day breakfast and lunch. Because I'll be in the city and have a meeting at like 11 o'clock and then have to go back to Frederick. It's like well, where can I go to eat? So that's kind of when I first fell in love with them. So I'll be on the lookout for that for sure.

Masako Morishita:

Absolutely. And then as you know, he he does some crazy stuff like fermentation mostly.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I love I love like any of the like kimchi toasts. You know, I think I've had a number of the kimchi toasts? Yeah. Every time. I think it's one of those things that's probably on the menu all the time, right?

Masako Morishita:

Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. We were still testing like every week to perfect the new pop up that we're thinking about doing together. So yeah, I'll definitely let you know. Just check my Instagram. I'll do announcements and things like that are mostly my Instagram. So

Chris Spear:

I look forward to that. And I'm looking forward to getting out of winter. We've had a mild winter, but as soon as spring comes, I feel like I'm gonna be in the mood to just like, get out and do some things and eat some food.

Masako Morishita:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Same, same here.

Chris Spear:

Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.

Masako Morishita:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Chris Spear:

So to all our listeners, this has been the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. As always, you can find us at Chefs Without Restaurants, calm and.org and on all social media platforms. Thanks so much, and have a great day. Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, or sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at Chefs Without restaurants@gmail.com Thanks so much.