Interview: Chef Tyson Cole
For many Americans, their introduction to Austin sushi chef Tyson Cole was his appearance on Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 2008. But his first major national recognition was three years earlier, when he was recognized by Food and Wine Magazine as one of the Best New Chefs of 2005 for his now eight-year-old sushi restaurant on South Lamar called Uchi.
“Uchi is all about simplicity,” Cole told KUT News. “It’s about my take on Japanese food of what I learned about traditional Japanese food over a ten year period. I took that and stood it on its head and made it more accessible and user friendly to American people by adding ingredients that they’re already familiar with.”
Tyson Cole grew up in Sarasota, Florida. His parents moved to The Woodlands, outside of Houston, when he was still a kid. In 1989, Cole moved to Austin. He started out as a dishwasher at Japanese restaurant downtown. Eventually, he worked his way up to head sushi chef.
“People sat in front of me, like you are right now. The whole time, they ate,” he said. “Watch them eat every single bite, and then got direct feedback the whole time.”
“Over three years, five years, twelve years, it helped me develop my cuisine, because my customers that were regular customers that came two and three times a week would consistently challenge me to come up with new dishes,” Cold said. “That was difficult. But it made me push myself.”
Last year, Cole opened Uchiko on North Lamar Blvd. He just came out with Uchi the Cookbook. And he hopes to open another restaurant in Houston. But despite his expansion outside of Austin, Cole says he still most at home in this Central Texas city.
“Austin’s food scene now is incredible,” Cole said. “The food scene in Austin echoes the development and growth and evolution of Austin over the past decade. A lot of old school Austinites are fighting against that progress. But I think it’s progress, it’s evolution. It’s a place becoming it’s own and maturing.”
Listen to our full 20 minute interview with Tyson Cole using the player below, or download the mp3.
Here’s the radio story that aired this morning.