Round two with Shaun Motoda, chef de cuisine at TAG|RAW BAR
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? My knives have all been gifts, so each one is special. A few of them were gifts from executive chefs I worked with in Hawaii; my mom bought me a beautiful sashimi knife that's so special I only use it at home; I have another one from Willie's in Waikiki that was an award for being the employee of the year that I now use at TAG|RAW to cut sashimi and sushi rolls; and I have one from my brother -- a Shun deba knife that I picked out because I knew I'd need it to break down fish and cut through bone. It's light and streamlined and really easy to work with. I've never actually purchased a knife for myself.
What was the last cookbook you bought, and what recipes are you cooking from it? Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body and the Soul, by Ole G. Mouritsen. I buy cookbooks for the visual inspiration and the techniques, but I don't actually use the recipes, so I haven't made anything out of Mouritsen's book, but it's nonetheless a great read.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: Make the recipe at least once, exactly as it's written, and then go ahead and mess with it the second or third time you make it. What's the point of trying out a new recipe if you're going to jack with it right out of the gate?
What's your biggest pet peeve? I'm pretty meticulous, so I can't stand it when people don't put things back in their specific spots. I also get pissed when I find a dirty knife lying around. At TAG|RAW BAR, we don't tolerate dirty knives. Ever.
What do you enjoy most about your craft? Creating dishes that are unique and unexpected -- new dishes that nobody else is doing right now. I also love it when I can wow a guest with a TAG|RAW creation. That's one of my favorite things about working in an open kitchen: I hear and see every diner's comments and expressions after they taste my food. It's instantly gratifying.
Craziest night in the kitchen: When I was working at Roy's on Oahu, we used these small woks filled with hot oil to fry tempura. One night a pot of water got knocked over onto the wok, which made the flame from the burner ignite the oil and create a gigantic fireball that reached all the way up to the ceiling. The entire kitchen was illuminated by fire. It was a massive mess, a terrible stink, and pretty damn scary.
When you have a day off away from the kitchen, how do you spend your time? I head to the gym and lift weights because, well, I eat a lot of fast food and burgers. After I work out, I eat. A lot. I'm also really into cars, so I read car magazines and love to fix up my Subaru.