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Masako Morishita on Shattering The Glass Ceiling For Immigrant Women Chefs

Rectangle image with navy background of Masako Morishita

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About this episode

#49. In this week's episode, Josh Sharkey sits down with the incredible Chef, Masako Morishita, whose journey from Kobe, Japan, to the United States is nothing short of inspiring.

Masako's family owns Morshita Liquor Store, a renowned restaurant and bar in Kobe that has been serving customers for almost a century. Despite not speaking English, Masako found herself in Wisconsin before eventually settling in D.C. But her story doesn't stop there.

Before embarking on her culinary journey, Masako held the prestigious position of captain within the NFL cheerleading squad for the Washington Commanders. Following her passion for dance, she soon discovered a deep-seated love for the culinary arts, setting the stage for her remarkable career in cooking.

This year, Masako was nominated as a James Beard Award semi-finalist, following her win as Eater D.C. Chef of the year in 2023. She currently serves as Executive Chef at Perry's, where her dedication to showcasing authentic Japanese cuisine beyond sushi and tempura shines through.

During our conversation, we delve into Masako's mission of educating Americans about casual Japanese cuisine and the importance of supporting immigrant women in the hospitality industry. She shares her insights on the changes she hopes to see and highlights other inspiring women in the field.

Where to find Masako Morishita:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:


Just give the code "meezpod24" to your meez Services Manager for 25 FREE Recipe Uploads (must be a meez customer to qualify)

What We Cover

(02:50) Masako's Daikon dish at Indie Chefs

(06:52) How Masako considers herself to be a rebel

(12:07) What inspired Masako to become an NFL cheerleader

(13:48) Leadership lessons learned through being captain of an NFL cheerleading team

(15:43) How growing up with parents in the restaurant industry influenced Masako

(19:56) Things that Americans misunderstand about Japanese food

(25:30) How lack of experience and being a woman immigrant caused Masako to work harder to gain success

(27:27) How Masako hires her staff

(31:43) Being a woman in a male dominated industry

(37:28) What Masako sees for her future in the industry


[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey:

You're listening to season two of The meez Podcast I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, a culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, we're going to talk to high performers in the food business, everything from chefs to CEOs, technologists, writers, investors, and more about how they innovate and operate and how they consistently execute at a high level.


Day after day. And I would really love it if you could drop us a five star review anywhere that you listen to your podcasts. That could be Apple, that could be Spotify, could be Google. I'm not picky. Anywhere works, but I really appreciate the support. And as always, I hope you enjoy the show.


My guest today is Chef Masako Morishita. Chef Masako has, well, just an incredible background and the path that she's taken to get to where she is today is a lot of what we talk about today. She's an immigrant from Kobe, Japan, and actually her family Has a restaurant there that's been open for almost a hundred years, called Morshita Liquor Store.


Anyway, she came to the States, speaking no English, was living in Wisconsin, of all places, and then ended up in D.C. Prior to cooking, she was actually the captain of the Washington Redskins cheerleading squad. Now that she has been cooking, it's been about five years and it's been quite the meteoric rise.


This year she was nominated for a James Beard. She's a semi finalist for a James Beard award. Last year she won Eater D.C. Chef of the Year. She's a chef for a restaurant called Perry's. And a lot of what we talk about today and a lot of what her passion revolves around is one, educating Americans on what Japanese cuisine is outside of obviously sushi and tempura, things like that, really specifically like casual Japanese cuisine and what it means to her and why we should be eating more of it.


Talk a lot about women in hospitality, specifically immigrant women in hospitality. I asked her. You know, what is one thing that she would love to see change? There's obviously a lot that we need to do to help. She's pretty passionate about it. She talks about some other women that are inspiring to her.


And generally just a really, you know, awesome conversation. I hadn't seen her in about two years. I met Masako at an Indie Chefs event in D.C. a couple years ago. And I vividly remember. putting daikon radish into sous vide bags and helping her with the combi oven. And she made this really incredible dish of sous vide daikon.


I think it was cooked in rice water and there was a gratin of brie cheese on top. Anyways, we reminisced a bit about that on the call and overall just had a lot of fun. So as always, I hope that you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.

[00:02:43] Josh Sharkey:

So nice to see you.

[00:02:44] Masako Morishita:

Yeah, nice to see you too.

[00:02:46] Josh Sharkey:

It's been quite a while. I think the last time I saw you.

[00:02:49] Masako Morishita:

Few years, right?

[00:02:50] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah. I think the last time I saw you was opening up a combi oven. 'cause you were, I think you were cooking some daikon maybe in, in Dashi.

[00:02:59] Masako Morishita:

Oh, yes. Yes. For that, for the event.

[00:03:01] Josh Sharkey:

That's right. Yeah. For the indie chefs event. Mm-Hmm. . Was it daikon? I think it was daikon, yeah. Yeah.

[00:03:05] Masako Morishita:

I think I did the, the daikon dish.

[00:03:07] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah. It was really good. What was that? I don't remember. Was that, yeah.

[00:03:11] Masako Morishita:

So that was a braised daikon Mm-hmm. So yeah, I was doing like double braising. But first is like a pre, pre braise, like braising.


It's like I cooked a daikon with a little bit of like rice. And a lot of water to get rid of all the bitterness and everything, make it soft. And then second one was actually, uh, uh, soon be like slow cooking, braising with chicken kombu dashi and tamari all together and get all the flavors in.

[00:03:40] Josh Sharkey:

It was really good. Thank you, I think there was cheese on top, wasn't there?

[00:03:43] Masako Morishita:

Yeah. So I have the, a slice of Brie, like Brie cheese on the top. Yeah. Che serve with a dashi. Oh, that's right. Yeah. That's okay now.

[00:03:51] Josh Sharkey:

Now I remember the whole thing.

[00:03:52] Masako Morishita:


[00:03:53] Josh Sharkey:

It was, that's right. It was sou vide the dashi. And then you bruleed the brie on top. Yeah. That was really good. That was really good. Thank you. Anyways, great to have you on the show.

[00:04:02] Masako Morishita:

Yeah, thank you for having me.

[00:04:03] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah, we're live, by the way, so we're just gonna do it.

[00:04:06] Masako Morishita:

Oh, okay. Oh, okay. Yeah, this is it.

[00:04:08] Josh Sharkey:

You know, we're just, we're casual here. Are you in between services right now, or like

[00:04:14] Masako Morishita:

No, today's actually my day off, but I call it working from home day.

[00:04:19] Masako Morishita:

Nice. Nice. I love it. So yeah, I don't have to work for service. Yeah.

[00:04:24] Josh Sharkey:

So I should have fact checked this and like just texted Brad or something, but like it's your birthday recently, right?

[00:04:30] Masako Morishita:

Yes. It was on Sunday, actually. That's right. Happy birthday. Of course I was working. Yeah. Thank you. I was working for the service.

[00:04:35] Masako Morishita:

So yeah, it's just like a regular, regular day.

[00:04:39] Josh Sharkey:

Did you do any, any celebration afterwards or?

[00:04:42] Masako Morishita:

Not really. I came home probably around like 11 o'clock, so it wasn't that early. We couldn't really go anywhere. So I'm actually hoping, actually, uh, Brad, my, my husband, he's thinking about taking me to New York in March for a little bit of celebration. So yeah, we'll see. All right.

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