23 to watch in 2023: Keita Tominaga, executive chef at Hana Japanese

In 2023, Keita Tominaga hopes to make the menu at Hana Japanese restaurant entirely his, allowing him to step out of his late father’s shadow and into a new beginning for the restaurant.|

Title: Executive chef at Hana Japanese restaurant

On the job since: 2013

Age: 31

Hometown: Santa Rosa

Why Tominaga is someone to watch:

Keita Tominaga always planned to take over the reins of his father Kenichi “Ken” Tominaga’s Rohnert Park restaurant. The upscale Japanese restaurant, founded in 1990, is a Sonoma County institution, and most nights, you could find off-duty chefs seated at his sushi bar. But Ken’s untimely death in May left a vacuum that Keita is working to fill with the help of his mother, Emiko, and brother, Kousuke, while also envisioning his future. The Culinary Institute of America graduate had cooked at some of Sonoma and Napa’s finest restaurants, giving him a strong foundation in Western cuisine. But six months working in Tokyo at the Michelin-starred Tenoshima honed his understanding of Japanese cuisine. There, he learned kaiseki, traditional multicourse meals of small seasonal dishes presented in a precise, ritualized manner. Keita is slowly but surely changing the menu to highlight more seasonal local produce and revisiting Hana recipes that haven’t changed in decades. In 2023, Keita hopes to make the menu entirely his, from start to finish, allowing him to step out of his father’s shadow and into a new beginning for the restaurant.

What others are saying about Tominaga:

“I am looking forward to watching Chef Keita develop his own culinary style based on his vast experience in some of the best restaurants in Napa, Sonoma and Tokyo. So many of us have watched Keita grow up in his family's restaurant, and now we will watch him carry on his father’s legacy at Hana Japanese restaurant. Keita is an incredibly kind and thoughtful cook and leader. In 2023, we will see Keita's cuisine come to life at one of Sonoma counties most iconic restaurants,” Justin Wangler, executive chef, Jackson Family Wines.

What Tominaga says about 2023:

“I am looking forward to the next chapter of my cooking career. My goal is to put in my own twist on the cuisine at Hana and try to establish my flavors. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to experiencing everything and absorbing it all.”

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