Tower Bridge Dinner Lead Chef

Craig Takehara is Chef/Owner of Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining brings 26 years of experience from kitchens large and small. Craig originally grew up in Sacramento where his first job in high school was at Oto’s grocery store learning how to butcher meat and how to properly cut fish for their full-service deli. Shortly after high school he moved to Southern California to go to community college in Santa Barbara where he was the deli manager making sandwiches, hot foods, and overseeing the meat and fish departments in a small grocery store.

Eventually, by an appointment his father made at the culinary school, he moved to Los Angeles to attend the California School of Culinary Arts le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. At school he trained under Chef Professor Kyle Connaughton, now the Chef/Owner of Single Thread Farms in Healdsburg.

Graduating in 2002, he worked in fine dining French cuisine for the Patina Group where he met his first mentor Chef Scott Dolbee. He then moved to the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach to learn fine dining on a larger scale. In 2005, he took a job in Beverly Hills to work with his future wife Toki who was working as a Pastry Chef, leaving Orange County behind. At restaurant Umenohana, he took a position as Sous Chef and learned Japanese fine dining called, “Kaiseki” and met his other mentor Chef Yukio Sakai. A year or so later both Chef Sakai and Craig were headhunted to be the opening chefs to build a new restaurant called Gonpachi in Beverly Hills. Craig was sent to Japan to train and open their restaurants while working. During his stay in Japan, he traveled around to study the art of fine dining Japanese cuisine to Japanese street foods. He then found his passion in Japanese street foods more than fine dining.

In 2009, he moved back to Sacramento and realized that this town was missing that style of eatery. In 2016, he and his wife established Binchoyaki in the heart of Japantown in Sacramento. The small izakaya specializes in small bites on skewers that are cooked on Japanese charcoal. The menu includes daily specials with seasonal fish flown in from Japan as well as freshly picked vegetables and fruits from local farmers.

Binchoyaki has been included in Slow Food Sacramento, 2019/2020 Michelin recommendation, a nomination for semifinalist of a James Beard Best Chef California Award 2023, Sacramento Baconfest Champion 2018, ABC 10 Small Business Award, and the Asian Chamber of Commerce “Frank Fat Legacy Award,”2022.

Craig and Toki calls their food, “Japanese soul food.”

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