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AMBASSADORS

Yeti Ambassador

Shota
Nakajima

Seattle
,
Washington
Food & Beverage
YETI Ambassador Shota Nakajima
With family ties to the culinary world that run generations deep, Shota Nakajima’s profession is very much in his blood. Yet even with this supposed birthright, it took leaving his hometown to find his roots.

At the age of 18, Shota left the city that raised him, Seattle, for Osaka, the city that would bring him home. Studying at the prestigious Tsuji Culinary Institute and later apprenticing under Michelin-starred chef Yasuhiko Sakamoto instilled a true passion for sharing Japanese cuisine. When he returned to Seattle, he brought back a piece of Japan with him. Through multiple restaurant openings, national attention from a third-place run on Top Chef, and a handful of awards and nominations, he has been able to share his heritage far and wide. Add in his regular exploration of the bounty that is the Pacific Northwest, and you’ve got a formidable culinary force to be reckoned with. It’s Shota’s hard work, resilience, and undying curiosity that makes us proud to call him one of us.

Q:

Where is your favorite culinary region or city?

A:

Osaka, Japan. It’s called the daidokoro of Japan, which means the dining room in the house.

Q:

Tell us about a perfect culinary day there:

A:

Grilling fresh seafood from Awaji Island on a nice sunny day.

Q:

At what age did you know you would be a chef?

A:

I knew when I wanted to be a chef at 15 when my mom came into the first restaurant I worked at. School was always a struggle, and growing up, I felt like I always disappointed my parents. When I was 15, I moved out and didn’t talk to my parents for a while. But when they heard I got a job, they came in. I still remember the smile on my mom’s face when I fed her something I made. That’s the reason why I got into this business.

Q:

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?

A:

I look up to my Chef Sakamoto Yasuhiko who I trained for in Japan. The work ethic and drive that that man taught me is the reason I am the way I am.

Q:

Who is someone that you could not do all this without?

A:

Nick Springer. He’s my culinary director who operates most things in the company. My clutch guy as they say.

Q:

How do you improve as a chef each year?

A:

I am always on the hunt to learn about new techniques for cooking yummy things, connecting with new chefs, and doing dinner.

Q:

What haven’t you accomplished that you aspire to do?

A:

I aspire every day to be the best version of myself. Beating myself from yesterday to be a better chef/person.

Q:

Where will we find you on your days off?

A:

Always in the woods with my dog Dodger!

Q:

If you weren’t a culinary ambassador, what kind of YETI Ambassador would you be?

A:

I’d like to be a foraging ambassador talking about YETI products in the forest.

Q:

What ingredient do you love?

A:

Soy sauce has so many different usages. I personally love the aroma it gives ingredients when it burns — that smoke just hits the protein.

Q:

I am happiest when I am preparing my meal with___?

A:

I am happiest when I am preparing a meal with my dog @dodgersgotsnakcs in the woods.

Q:

What are the three most essential things you need in the kitchen?

A:

Fire, chopsticks, and a knife. I can cook a ten-course meal if I have these three things.

Q:

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

A:

I would like to get into mycology full time if I didn’t chef around.

Q:

Why do chefs need gear that is Built for the Wild?

A:

When you’re out and about in the woods for a few days and you need ice to cool things down, a regular cooler just won’t cut it.

Q:

Can you describe what YETI means to you?

A:

When I hear YETI I think quality. The best of the best. And I promise I”m not saying that ‘cause I’m an ambassador!

Q:

What YETI gear can you not do without?

A:

The cooler for sure. I spend days out in the woods foraging too far from grocery stores to pick up ice. I [also] learned this trick from Chef Jason Dady to hold temp [in the cooler] when resting meat and now I can’t go without it. I even want to try out a new method where you smoke protein in it since YETI coolers hold air incredibly well.

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