Takashi Yagihashi

Why Because his dishes exquisitely combine French and Japanese ideas.

Born Mito, Japan, 1957.

Experience Yoshi's Cafe and Ambria in Chicago.

Early food memory "I grew up only 10 miles from the ocean, so we had lots of fresh seafood. Fish was very cheap, meat was very expensive so nobody ever fed me beef or lamb."

Favorite childhood restaurants "Western food was very rare in my town, so McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken were high-end."

Least favorite food "Okay, I'm not crazy about ketchup. But I like mayonnaise."

A rule in his kitchen His line cooks are forbidden to have soft drinks while they're working. "I think it ruins their palates."

What he'd be if he weren't a chef A "Pat Metheny-style" guitarist.

Favorite restaurants Savarin and Arun in Chicago.

What he does when he's not working Spends time with his wife and three children, ages eight, five and one. "I cook traditional Japanese food; the kids like it. My son's favorite is sukiyaki. He calls it brown meat.'"

Won Best New Chef at: Tribute, Farmington Hills, MI