I was born in New York, and raised in Tokyo, Kamakura, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Mexico City. I am a food writer, author, cooking teacher, and producer based in Los Angeles. I am also working on a project to revive heirloom grains in the Southern California region. All these activities fall under my project - Common Grains, which aims to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Japanese food and culture. Within this mission, I advocate a sustainable and healthy lifestyle with grains and vegetables at the heart of a meal.
My cookbook, The Poetical Pursuit of Food: Japanese Recipes for American Cooks was published by Potter in 1982.
For more than 20 years, I worked in the film industry as a film buyer and consultant for major Japanese film distributors acquiring hundreds of films, including box office hits like Lord of the Rings and cool indie films like Reservoir Dogs or delicious films like Like Water for Chocolate. I produced “Blindness,” – a film directed by Fernando Meireilles (City of God, Constant Gardner). Currently, I am working on a film about the French chef Bernard Loiseau, which will be adapted from the non-fiction book titled, Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski.
I have contributed articles to the Los Angeles Times food section for more than 10 years; my food stories, recipes and memoirs about food have also appeared in the Chicago tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur, Zester Daily and Bungei Shunju (a Japanese literary magazine).
I’ve appeared on both local and national television programs and interviewed on radio programs, including KCRW’s Good Food and most recently on NPRs’ The World. http://pri.org/stories/2013-10-25/george-washington-ate-soba-noodles-and-la-woman-believes-you-should-too
For the past few years, I have been involved in cultural and educational projects to promote Japanese food and culture and Japanese rice for Cool Japan - a cultural project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and other cultural projects funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). I’ve done food events at Google headquarters, museums, community centers and trade shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Hawaii, Chicago, Paris and I am now getting ready to do a rice event in Hong Kong.
I have taught cooking classes and done pop up events at locations such as Cooks County, Cortez , Garden Foundation, Bread bar, WSU, USC, UCLA, JANM in Los Angeles, and at the San Francisco Cooking School, JCCCNC, and Bar Tartine in San Francisco, and Shed in Sonoma, etc. I also was invited by a Chicago based designer- Skyline Design to do a soba workshop for designers, architects, and chefs.
One of my passion projects is the Southern California Heritage Grain project. I am working with Alex Weiser of Weiser Farms and Jon Hammond of Linda Vista Ranch in Tehachapi, Grist and Toll, and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers (LABB) to grow heirloom grains and create a sustainable community grain hub in this region. The project is supported with a seed grant from Anson Mills.