Owner | Chef
Sushi Seki is the creation of Chef Seki Shi. Chef Seki began his culinary journey at a young age, working with his Mom to perfect the art of crispy rice. After graduating from high school, Chef Seki continued his study in Tokyo, where he discovered his true passion for cooking. Authentic Japanese cuisine intrigued him and drew him to the culinary details and fundamental techniques that are the foundation of his innovative cuisine today.
“Never stop learning” is the philosophy of Chef Seki. Chef Seki developed his knowledge of fish at the famed Tsukiji Market; one of the largest fish markets in the world. Chef Seki began working as a dishwasher and eventually advanced to become head kitchen chef and within a few years, a sushi chef.
In 1991, Chef Seki moved to New York City. Chef Seki explored his talent by working at various restaurants to enhance his experience including Sushi of Gari. Chef Seki has since become one of the masters in the art of fine sushi.
In 2002, Chef Seki opened Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side. His commitment to selecting only the best fish in the most trusted Japanese markets, has allowed Chef Seki to build his reputation.
In 2014, Chef Seki opened his second location in Chelsea. Chef Seki along with his family of NYC’s finest sommeliers and sushi chefs are committed to the “never stop learning” attitude by creating and balancing the flavor of the fish with simple ingredients, a classic style and expansive sake and wines, paired perfectly to each meal.
Chef Seki is known for his signature sushi classics using the finest seafood available in the world, and taking his lucky clients on a culinary journey. His classic style shines through as he caters to guests’ individual tastes. At his newest outpost in Hell's Kitchen, Chef Seki continues to surprise his guests with a Chef’s tasting menu at the exclusive 6-seat Kappo counter. Here, he continues to treat his discerning clientele to the finest dishes prepared according to the season and the guest’s taste.
Yasu, one of the first sake sommeliers in New York City, began his career at Sushi of Gari as a Floor Manager. In 2002 he helped open Sushi Seki on Manhattan's Upper East Side -- his firstexecutive management role. From 2005 to 2012 he has worked with other great establishments such as Megu. Lan, Kumo of West Hollywood, 15 East, Brushstroke and Sakamai. He completed the Brewing Society of Japan's Sake Tasting Meister Program and is certified Advance Sake Professional (ASP)
In addition to his work at Sushi Seki, Yasu is a key member of the NY Japanese Culinary Academy, which is dedicated to promoting Japanese food culture and restaurants in the United States, and the founder of Wabisabi Consulting.
Service & Beverage Director
With his education in hospitality and degree in food and beverage management, Rick Zouad brings a sophisticated flare to the art of designing beverage selections and food pairings. Moroccan native Zouad began his career in 2006 as a bar manager and captain at Lan, an East Village Japanese
restaurant where he spent two years honing his palate and establishing himself in the industry before transitioning to a new position at Alain Ducasse’s Benoit as their private dining captain.
Zouad further refined his skills as a sommelier and demonstrated his ability to offer intricate beverage pairings while maintaining a seamless back of house operation when he took on the title of captain and sommelier at Time Warner Center’s exclusive sushi haven, Masa, in 2009. He worked alongside renowned sushi chefs and industry leading staff to provide patrons with exquisite meals, excellent service, and impeccably tailored sake and wine pairings. Working cohesively in this three-Michelin starred restaurant allowed Zouad to display his ability to meet high diner expectations and confirm his merits as a sommelier.
His early career successes established Zouad as a go-to for perfectly refined pairings and high quality service. In 2011 he went on to become sommelier and captain at 15 East, a chic sushi bar in Union Square that has been awarded a Michelin star. Here, he spent over two years expertly pairing rare sake with brilliantly prepared sushi and humbly sharing his expertise with diners.
In 2013, sake guru Zouad found a new home as sommelier and beverage director at Sushi Nakazawa, a New York Times 4 star-rated restaurant in the West Village. He curated a one of a kind beverage program that included a copious sake menu and a well-tailored wine list. With over 100 hand-selected sakes on his sake list, Zouad offered diners selections ranging from exclusive, hard to find sake to small brewery gems. Zouad’s mature and creative palate aided him in the wine selections as well, which included an assortment of light, beautifully acidic wines with a higher minerality to compliment and highlight the notes of the sushi.
Zouad has taken his refined skills to the next level with his latest venture at Sushi Seki, where he is the beverage director. In keeping consistent with his taste for fine sushi and his unique ability to create dynamic sake and wine pairings, Zouad is perfectly at home in this urbane sushi institution. Zouad compliments the seasonal Japanese cuisine with a collection of old and new world wines, and rare, unique, and simply delicious sakes.
Wine Director | Chelsea
Shortly after arriving in America, he received his certificate of wine training by Harriet Lembeck, one of his beloved mentors. Here he developed a balanced knowledge of both the old world and the new world of wines. He has also served as a beverage manager and service manager at one of the highest respected Japanese Clubs in New York City where he has also hosted private wine classes for years.