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Chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett of Peko Peko was born in Kyoto and grew up in a drafty Japanese house in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada. His mother’s home cooking and summer trips to visit his grandmother in Japan instilled in him a love of simple, real Japanese food.
Sylvan has cooked in restaurants in Portland, Oregon and the Cote d’Azur, France. He returned to California to work at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, for six years as Alice Waters’ assistant and then as the restaurant’s first Creative Director, in charge of special dinners and events.
But the food of his childhood called to him. He left for Japan to eat and cook and worked at a locally famous soba restaurant in the countryside north of Tokyo. There, down-to-earth hospitality determined the service and the search for the most vibrant ingredients determined the menu. This informality and attention to the basic foodstuffs—local fish, local rice, organic vegetables, hand shaved katsuobushi, heritage breed meats—all prepared simply, describe Peko-Peko’s food.