Restaurant Reporter
Jan Butsch Schroder

I was lucky enough to lunch with the jet-setting celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s as he briefly landed in Atlanta. This pioneer of Hawaiian fusion cooking has a bio that goes on for pages (partial list – James Beard award winner, founding Chef of Roy’s, creator of a TV series, appearances on Good Morning America, Emeril, The Today Show and Regis & Kelly, featured chef on the Grammy Awards, cookbook writer and purveyor of his own products on the Home Shopping Network.)

Although Roy was born in Japan, his grandfather owned a tavern in Wailuku, Maui. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he was an apprentice of L’Ermitage in California, where he immersed himself in French cooking under the tutelage of the late master chef Jean Bertranou. “I made sauces for a year and a half,” he said.

Roy opened the first Roy’s in Honolulu in 1988 and there are now 35 Roy’s worldwide (including in Buckhead on Piedmont Road), each with its own menu.

“I wanted to showcase each chef’s style. Chefs are creative and I didn’t want to stifle their ability to create,” Roy said. “The chef in each location is allowed to make up his own menu. We want the menus written the way the chefs think. They have to type the menus and make sure the pricing is correct.” Seven items, such the baby back ribs and a butterfish dish created by Roy that marinates for a couple of days, are found on every menu.

Always still experimenting in the kitchen, Roy has lately been working with green tea and white soy sauce—which he enjoys because it’s not as heavy—and Japanese sour plums.

On the rare occasions he gets to relax, he enjoys playing the drums. But his absolute favorite thing to do? “I love to sit in the kitchen and make sauces,” he said. “I could spend eight hours watching over a sauce.”

Roy’s is at 3475 Piedmont Road in The Marsh building, 404-231-3232, www.roysrestaurant.com.

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