An Interview with Tyson Cole

Tyson Cole, one of the most talented chefs in America and the founder of Austin’s hotspots Uchi and Uchiko, gave us a little preview of what to expect from his interactive Makimono Hands-on Demo. Plus, it turns out that even star chefs have idols. Lucky for Cole, his culinary “hero” — Masaharu Morimoto — just so happens to be on the festival roster as well!

What is your favorite part of doing interactive sessions? And what are you most looking forward to about this demo opportunity in particular… any sneak peek details? TC: I feel like I’ve been given a gift from what I’ve been taught and learned from the master Japanese chefs that I apprenticed under, and I love the opportunity to take that knowledge and teach it myself to the everyday person (everyday people?) and my guests! It’s what I did for over a decade behind my sushi counter, and now I get to do the same Q&A with patrons of the festival.

You’re an absolute expert at your craft. How would you describe the experience of teaching an audience who might be new to the preparation of Japanese cuisine? TC: Like most everything it has to be taught in stages…and you have to be detail oriented enough to make it interesting and also share the type of knowledge that people can actually apply when they get home. Lots of stories, analogies and information about sushi itself and Americans’ ideas of it.

In our Chef Roundtable Series you mentioned that Masaharu Morimoto influenced your decision (in a roundabout way) to pursue cooking. Where else did you find early inspiration? Will you be stopping by his Mastering the Art of Sushi class on Saturday, April 28? TC: I dove in headfirst and worked with a dozen Japanese guys every day for over 12 years; it was them that inspired me with their love of their food, their culture and each other. I watched lots of Japanese videotapes of cooking shows and animation as well. It all made me learn the language, and in turn, the food.

Turning the tables a bit, have you ever learned anything – a new trick, technique or even fact – from someone in one of your demo audiences? TC: I had Andrew Zimmern in at Uchiko this year at my sushi counter and while I was talking to him about my food and dishes, he was schooling ME about some of the ingredients history and background too! That guy is a walking dictionary of everything food. Amazing.

You’ve mentioned that you love the fact that the festival will be bringing together the best and brightest from both the music and the culinary worlds. Which performance are you most looking forward to? What about other chefs’ classes – which are your must-sees? TC: I’m most looking forward to watching my hero chef Morimoto, some of Michelle Bernstein’s ceviches and Tim Love’s big outdoor BBQ hands-on demo. And of course the Friday kick-off event “Rock your Taco” where Paul Qui and I are going to show everyone how to win a taco competition against the best chefs in America!

See Tyson at his demo happening on Saturday, April 28 at 2PM. Also, tune in to catch more of Tyson Cole in our latest Chef Roundtable Series.