Hiro Tawara was introduced to the kitchen at age four, teaching himself the basics of cooking fluffy scrambled eggs, juicy sausage and perfectly cooked steamed rice. Even at a young age when cooking for his family, and later for guests, his motivation and enjoyment came from his parents’ reaction to tasting his food – he thrived off it! His dream to be a chef and restaurant owner was further galvanized in childhood by a fictional character named Ryozo in the comic book, Oishinbo, who served as a chef in an authentic Kaiseki restaurant.
After graduating from university, Hiro worked in disciplined, strict Japanese restaurants for 10 years, including apprenticing at a famous Kyoto-based Kaiseki restaurant. Moving to Seattle in 2005, Hiro worked at Shiro's Sushi and Sushi Kappo Tamura where he observed that people really only associated sushi as the only Japanese food, missing a whole culture of diverse cuisines. During his time at Shiro's, he was impressed with Chef Shiro's dedication to Japanese food and culture, which he shared with his guests. Hiro grew eager to bring the foods he dedicated himself to in Japan to the Northwest.
Kaiseki, the traditional, multi-course style Japanese haute cuisine focuses on seasonal ingredients prepared in a variety of cooking methods. Given the area’s availability of local, organic and sustainable ingredients, and his learned devotion to such ingredients from Chef Shiro, Hiro recognized an opportunity to bring something truly unique to Seattle, starting his own successful monthly Kaiseki pop-up and Kaiseki catering company in 2015 before opening wa’z in 2018.
At home, Hiro enjoys cooking other Japanese foods including Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), ramen, and hotpot; as well as Italian, Korean, Chinese and Russian foods. No matter the cuisine, he cooks to bring out the umami of each ingredient, further enhanced when combining the ingredients. He keeps his culinary influence alive by keeping in touch with Japanese chefs from back home, and is an avid member of the Japanese Culinary Academy. He draws inspiration from the beauty of the world in nature, at vibrant farmer’s markets and in spectacular films.