Sailing with a Sushi Chef

At the heart of Adventure Canada is our staff. We would be nothing without them, these bold explorers and learned documenters of our natural world. They enliven our voyages beyond compare, bringing with them unparalleled good humour and expertise. Time and time again we are astonished and heartened by the caliber of expert resource leaders who fill our ranks. So, in the run-up to our exciting 2015 sailing season, we will be helping you get to know some of them a little better, here on the blog.



For those Vancouverites among us, the name “Tojo’s” scarcely needs an introduction. Hidekazu Tojo, or Tojo-san, reigns supreme over Vancouver’s most beloved sushi institution. Born in Kagoshima, Japan, Tojo-san apprenticed at the Ohnoya restaurant where he would master over two thousand traditional Japanese recipes as he worked sixteen-hour days. Driven by a passion for inventiveness, Tojo-san left his home country in 1971 and moved to Vancouver, where he sought an audience for his groundbreaking fare.


In the 1970s, Vancouver only had four Japanese restaurants. At one of them, Tojo-san began to craft a menu that harmonized Japanese and North American tastes. One of his innovations became world famous: for those who felt uneasy eating seaweed, he created an ‘inside-out’ roll of crabmeat and avocado—the California Roll. Today you would be hard-pressed to find a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t serve a variant. Fresh local ingredients unknown back in Japan began to hold places of honour in his cuisine.


In 1988, Tojo-san opened Tojo’s Restaurant on West Broadway, and the rest is history. Vancouver regulars rub shoulders with celebrity guests and Japanese visitors, all of whom gather together to share in his visionary take on traditional Japanese cuisine; one foot in the past and the other stepping boldly forward. He has garnered accolades too numerous to name, and has begun to train a new generation of chefs to follow in his footsteps. The Wall Street Journal selected Tojo-san as one of the top ten sushi chefs in the world, and he is the recipient the Vancouver Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award and a member of the BC Restaurants Hall of Fame. The tightly-knit family that runs Tojo’s constantly produces new and exciting menus for their guests, a practice born out the firm believe that taste is not static and truly wonderful food is born out of a caring and reciprocal relationship between the master and the people he serves.


Adventure Canada is, therefore, thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with Tojo-san in 2015. Aboard our Heart of the Arctic expedition, Tojo-san will delight travellers with his culinary expertise, leading a series of workshops on and discussions of his art. But perhaps most exciting is his plan to design a unique culinary creation based on ingredients and customs of the local Inuit population. We cannot wait to set sail with such a luminary member of Canada’s culinary elite: just one more way Adventure Canada is helping to spread culture, knowledge, and community.


Join Tojo-san on Adventure Canada’s voyage Heart of the Arctic, July 17–July 29, 2015.


All images courtesy of Leila Kwok.

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