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We're so excited about our NEW Black Tiger Shrimp from family-run farms in Vietnam's mangrove forests. This delicious shrimp is bigger and tastier; it's also grown with no artificial hormones, chemicals or antibiotics and contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
"Shrimp is plentiful in Vietnam, so it's always been important in Vietnamese cuisine and culture," says Wegmans Executive Chef Loi. "We selected Black Tiger shrimp because it’s unique." Black Tiger shrimp grows naturally in mangrove forests, eating whatever nature supplies, resulting in distinctively rich flavor. "It has a clean, delicious taste. Very sweet and buttery, but delicate," says Chef Loi. "The texture is just right for our sushi, not too firm, not too soft."
A few years ago, Vietnam's coastal mangrove forests nearly vanished because of widespread unregulated aquafarming expansion, but a dramatic decline in the shrimp population proved how crucial mangroves are as both food source and habitat for shrimp. Today, the replenished mangrove forests are carefully conserved; shrimp farmers are required to replant 55% of their acreage with mangroves. That's economically and environmentally important to Vietnamese communities—shrimp is the nation's top industry and export. Responsible sustainability efforts like these have earned our suppliers some of the industry’s highest sustainability recognitions.
Our Alpine King Salmon is harvested just for us from some of the planet's cleanest waters—glacier-fed canals in a pristine, isolated area in New Zealand's Southern Alps.
This remarkable salmon is not only delicious, it's free from antibiotics, chemicals, and artificial hormones and contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Feeding the salmon by hand ensures feeding amounts and timing will promote natural growth for great taste and texture.
The aquafarm's exacting stewardship has earned them one of the industry's highest sustainability recognitions for any salmon farm in the world.
Because the salmon is grown in New Zealand's fresh alpine waters, it has a milder, sweeter, cleaner flavor that’s buttery. That buttery flavor and velvety texture makes it perfect for our sushi—in fact, all our salmon sushi is made with Alpine King Salmon.
John Emerson's passion for making sushi had its start at George Brown College in his hometown of Toronto, Canada—he wrote his main theory paper on sushi in 1988! He says he's learned so much working with Wegmans sushi artisan Satoshi, and has also trained in Japan's famous Tsukiji Market, restaurants, and Japanese retail operations.
After working as a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in 1994, serving sushi to many distinguished guests, he came to Wegmans in 1997 and helping create our sushi program. "Many people are afraid of sushi," Emerson says. "Since sushi is actually rice combined with many different ingredients, I love showing people that there is a sushi for everyone. Sure there is raw fish sushi, but our Cooked Coconut Shrimp Roll or Buffalo Shrimp Sushi Roll are great examples. Vegetarian Sushi is also becoming more popular."
Chef Tadao Mikami has been cooking since he began working in his family's business in Tokyo at the age of 14. He completed college and culinary school in Tokyo, and later worked as a chef in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka before coming to New York City in 1975 and opening several of his own restaurants. In 2008, Chef David Bouley asked him to join his staff, and Mikami worked for Bouley for six years before joining the Next Door team in 2014.
Chef Mikami loves to share his knowledge of Japanese cuisine through teaching others. His signature "East Meets West" five-course dinners with wine pairings are held regularly at Next Door. These dinners feature the freshest sustainably sourced ingredients and discussion of the cooking techniques used.
In addition to his work at Next Door, Chef Mikami develops new products for Wegmans, including our popular line of ready-to-cook entrees & sides.
Takahiro Hachiya, a native of Gifu, Japan, learned to craft his amazing sushi creations from working as a sushi chef in the Ito-Yokado supermarket in Japan, a popular Japanese restaurant in London, UK., and some other high-profile American markets before he came to Wegmans. Sixty-five percent of the U.S. population has never tried sushi. It is Hachiya's passion to create great tasting sushi that appeals to everyone while helping our customers live healthier, better lives through food.
He loves the opportunity to learn more about sushi from dreaming up innovative rolls to working side-by-side with the other sushi artisans at Wegmans.
Chef Pham, a Rochester native, has a passion for sushi—particularly when it comes to fusing American and Japanese cuisine. With 12 years of experience, he translates his love for sushi and fusion cuisine into unique dishes like our Tuna Salmon Poke bowl, Tuna Tartare and Red Dragon Roll.
Next Door patrons can observe Chef Pham's expert skills up close and ask questions about the evening's featured dishes at the Sushi Bar in the main dining room.
Chef Satoshi Yamaguchi, a graduate of Masuda Culinary School in Tokyo, is a master of traditional sushi and joined Wegmans in 2005. Today at Next Door, he excels in bringing together inventive mixtures of ingredients that appeal to contemporary tastes, and showing how the art of sushi is a tradition that’s alive and vibrant with new possibilities. Yamaguchi finds inspiration in the rare and fresh seasonal ingredients Next Door is able to source, allowing him to create crowd favorites such as a peach, truffle and yellowtail salad or a unique fish special with fresh-caught bonito.
In addition to his work at Next Door, Chef Yamaguchi develops products for Wegmans Sushi bars.
Taiwanese native Bryan Kuo studied sushi making with some amazing sushi chefs, including Zagara’s Harrison Tai, Kenny Yung at Princeton's Ichiban restaurant, and from 1999 until now, Wegmans sushi team, including Win Tung, Andy Yea, and John Emerson.
"Sushi making has taught me an important life lesson: take pride in what you do," says Bryan. His workstyle was forged after reading sushi master Satoshi Ozawa’s book. "Ozawa gave all his devotion and hard work to sushi making for his customers. His words completely changed my personal philosophy. I dedicated myself to serving my customers with the same pride and passion Ozawa gave his. Having worked with the art for more than two decades, I still desire to learn and improve my skills."
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