91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Stateside Podcast: James Beard Award winner Hajime Sato

Hajime Sato
Galdones Photography
Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation
Hajime Sato

Michigan Chef Hajime Sato, owner of the Clawson-based sushi restaurant Sozai, won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes Category on Monday evening. Sato is the first sushi chef to win this title.

Known for its intimate setting and omakase dining experience, Sozai offers sustainable alternatives to typical sushi. Instead, the menu has featured dishes like namagi, a sustainable eel alternative made with catfish, and the Michigan roll, made with walleye sourced from the Great Lakes.

Sato’s commitment to sustainability began in 2009 while in Seattle, where he owned a sushi restaurant called Mashiko. He hasn't strayed from it since then.

According to Sato, these foods offer a more environmentally-friendly option compared to tuna and yellowtail caught by the industrial fishing industry, which are often out of season, and allows customers to eat food from somewhere close to home.

“We have these small snails called periwinkles, and that's [an] invasive species,” said Sato. “There is no predator, so we should be eating it. There's a lot of species like that [and] that's really exciting.”

Hear the full conversation with Chef Sato after he was nominated for an Outstanding Chef award in 2023 on the Stateside Podcast.

[Get Stateside on your phone: subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, or YouTube Music today.]

Stay Connected
Adán Quan is a production assistant for Stateside.
Ronia Cabansag is a producer for Stateside. She comes to Michigan Public from Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a BS in Media Studies & Journalism and English Linguistics with a minor in Computer Science.