Chef Ambrely Ouimette melts bone marrow on to unagi at Sushi|Bar (Courtesy of Sushi|Bar)
1st, let’s arrange all the parts – as if this posting is a type of sushi generation by itself, a journo omakase introduced for your newsy delectation.
Sushi|Bar, that fish-ahead speakeasy ensconced within the elegant Japanese household-cooking emporium of Bento Picnic on East Cesar Chavez, started off out in California. The strategy was brought to Austin in December 2020 by its originator, Phillip Frankland Lee (also the gentleman behind L.A.’s Michelin-starred Pasta|Bar restaurant), who has now parted approaches with that unique location, opening comparable venues in Austin and over and above with his spouse, pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee.
And now Sushi|Bar’s operate by a girl named Ambrely Ouimette, who’s been in the field considering that she was a teenager and has labored along with the likes of Nobu Matsuhisa in Denver and whose Ukrainian heritage carries on to encourage her career. And who, knife-wielding, does items with raw fish and fermented sauces and an array of arcane enhancements that will knock a citizen’s most jaded taste buds on their maxillofacial ass. No matter if working with fermented pineapple to spike a slice of kanpachi, dusting pieces with smoked cinnamon to insert unexpected depth, or melting bone marrow to drip upon beautifully seared unagi, she’s obtained moves that carry custom into new territory. Which is a fantastic thing, and remarkably advisable.
Take note: Sushi|Bar’s open 7 nights a 7 days but you will have to have to make reservations, typically significantly in progress, even though Ouimette swears that obtaining on the waitlist might rating you a position in the intimate 10-seater even quicker.
So, who is this chef that everyone’s clambering to take in the creations of? And how’d she receive her competencies and achieve this plum situation?
Ouimette began her experienced culinary journey near Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the oceanside area where her family vacationed in her childhood. “I started off doing work at this cafe when I was just 16 decades outdated,” she suggests, “and I was working in the back again of the kitchen. You know – shucking oysters and executing garde-manger, just starting up at the base there. It was an open up kitchen, and there was a sushi bar. And you know how kitchens are: You watch these guys, and they are all working around and swearing, smacking each individual other’s butts – just remaining entirely gross, you know? But I was observing these sushi chefs, and they are not like that. They’re just form of dancing in that put, and you happen to be looking at them be so structured and so quiet – it really is practically like a ballet. And I fell in enjoy with that. I realized I essential to be, like, outside the house of the pirate ship and get into the ballet with people sushi cooks.
“So I asked them if I could start performing with them. I was like, ‘Chef Nori-san, can I you should work with you men?’ He said no. And I said, ‘I’ll do just about anything, give me any position. I will get the job done for totally free, and nearly anything you need me to do, I’ll do it.’ So I started by cleansing the sushi bar, and I would make the wasabi and support them clean up at the stop of the night time. Then, right after about 6 months, the lead chef was like, ‘OK, you have revealed that you seriously want this, so we are gonna begin training you.’ And they took me on as an apprentice. It definitely was not an uncomplicated get started, nor has it at any time been quick. I don’t wanna engage in the female card as well early, but it was definitely a thing to defeat – specifically in the sushi marketplace.”
Our have city’s area on the nationwide sushi map came courtesy of Tyson Cole’s progressive Uchi on South Lamar in 2003, which was followed by spin-off Uchiko in 2010. Také and Kayo Asazu’s Komé introduced approachable nigiri splendor to Airport in 2011 following setting up on their own as players with their beloved Sushi-A-Go-Go foods truck. (Incidentally, Sushi-A-Go-Go has been resurrected, repping Komé in the Austin Metropolis Marketplace food items hall at the Austin-Bergstrom Intercontinental Airport.) Following that, the community scene expanded with the sites like Yoshi Okai’s 12-seat Otoko in the South Congress Lodge, Kazu Fukumoto’s eponymous venue on Medina, and the significantly-skipped Ky&omacrten Sushiko in Mueller – where itamae Sarah Cook dinner ran the location till the pandemic shut it down.
And now, 15 a long time right after her debut, getting honed her craft and attained her scars as a result of eating places on the West Coastline and the East Coast (and that Denver stint at Matsuhisa), Ouimette’s the govt chef of Sushi|Bar Austin – to begin with recruited from her pop-up small business in Portland, Maine, thanks to her competencies, personality, and a bold #femalesushichef existence on Instagram. Oh, let us contemplate the not-on the net aspects.
“Cooks frequently have that human being in their life when they were a kid, who would constantly prepare dinner,” says the affable itamae, whose Ukrainian grandmother ticks that box. “She and her spouse and children left Ukraine very long in the past – they’d been practicing Judaism, and it was, ah, frowned upon in the space, and they ran absent and landed in the United States when she was quite, incredibly young. She’s an definitely lovely lady – and the best cook dinner in my entire existence. Just, the potato pancakes and sauerkraut and pickles and beets, it was so thrilling to me as a kid – and it is 100% why I am carrying out what I am accomplishing now.”
While her model is mostly educated by classic sushi practices, people familial influences suffuse Ouimette’s ethos within and beyond the kitchen. “My fashion and the way I current the food is a tiny bit various,” she states. “The common sort of sushi is my enthusiasm, but I also grew up cooking Ukrainian and Italian, and I went to culinary college – which is European-primarily based, and mainly centered on French cuisine – and I carry people influences to my meals as effectively. We have a relaxed environment, and the chefs and myself adore assembly new people today and introducing new food – there’s practically nothing pretentious about the area.”
Just after partaking of Sushi|Bar’s 17-class omakase, served up in the exquisite Bento Picnic area of interest by a workforce of genial gurus glad to share their personal tales and hear people of guests though the curated bites are becoming sliced and assembled and torched and sauced and sprinkled, we are glad to corroborate that assertion. And to report that there’s almost nothing pretentious about talented chef Ambrely Ouimette, both.