World Renowned Chef Finds Balance at Wegmans

Chef standing at country drizzling a sauce on a plate of food

As a teenager in Japan, Matsu Matsuoka took a job at a local restaurant, working long, grueling hours. His strong work ethic and interest in learning and growing not just himself, but also the people and the work around him, was noticed by the owner, who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – a job working at his restaurant in Los Angeles.

At 23, Chef Matsu made the move to the U.S., where he truly fell in love with all aspects of the restaurant business, from running the kitchen, and hiring and training staff, to overseeing the marketing and finances. After 10 years in L.A., Matsu seized an opportunity to help establish and grow a chain of Japanese-inspired restaurants in Canada. As CEO, Matsu employed more than 600 people across eight restaurants in Canada and one in Japan.

While Matsu enjoyed and found success in the work he was doing, building a solid reputation in the restaurant industry across North America, there was still something missing – better work-life balance.

“I was thinking, ‘what am I doing with my life? How can I continue to do what I love without missing out on time with my family?’” Matsu recalls. “I was looking for a way to learn and grow in my career, while also finding a way to spend more time doing things I enjoy, which isn’t easy in this business.”

The opportunity came from an unlikely source – a phone call from John Emerson, Wegmans senior vice president of restaurant foods, inviting him to explore a career in the grocery industry.

The thought of working for a grocery store had never crossed Matsu’s mind, but after learning more about Wegmans, its reputation, commitment to high standards, and focus on people first, Matsu made his decision and joined Wegmans in the summer of 2022.

As Director of Specialty Restaurants, Matsu applies his chef skills and restaurant management knowledge to elevating our restaurants to be inspirational innovations centers developing flavors for our storesHe also works closely with the chefs at Next Door Rochester and the future Next Door at Astor Place in Manhattan to develop a new concept for our restaurant opening in 2025 at Astor Place.

“Wegmans changed my life,” he said. “I still get to do the things I love like experimenting with great flavors and creating delicious dishes, but with the challenge of bringing that restaurant-level cuisine to Wegmans customers. Wegmans really does prioritize its people and that has made me a better, more caring manager, but also provided the work-life balance I need. Now I have time to spend with my family going to concerts and watching my kids play sports, which I love.”

Beyond the Aisle

To hear more about Matsu’s path to Wegmans, listen to the conversation Senior Public Relations Coordinator Mandee Puleo had with Matsu and John Emerson, senior vice president of Restaurant foods.

Going “beyond the aisle” allows us to dig deeper into stories that highlight our people, our products, and our community in a whole new way.