Andy's Rest. Scorecard: Chef Tony Nemoto - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Andy's Rest. Scorecard: Chef Tony Nemoto, plus scores as of March 30

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(WMC-TV) - CHEF OF THE WEEK: Chef Toshiya Nemoto (Chef Tony), Benihana's corporate executive chef (Benihana Memphis is located at 912 Ridge Lake Blvd., East Memphis,

Forty-five years ago, Benihana's founder approached a naive, 17-year-old Japanese exchange student in Hawaii.

He promised the student an all-expense-paid trip to New York City if the student would consider becoming one of the first chefs to launch a teppanyaki-style grilling chain in the continental United States.

Now, Chef Toshiya Nemoto - Chef Tony - is Benihana's corporate executive chef and the mentor of two generations of teppanyaki masters.

"Teppan" is Japanese for "iron table." At teppanyaki-style restaurants like Benihana, the "iron table" is actually a stainless steel flat grill, designed to maintain varying temperatures on the same table-top.

"So you're having eight to ten broilers at one table to control the food," said Nemoto, "to make original flavor and adding our secret Japanese little touch of seasoning."

Chef Tony said originally, teppanyaki grilling didn't showcase all that flipping of spatulas, tongs and grilling forks -- or the occasional "onion volcano" and "I love you" messages spelled out in fried rice.

But the creativity, energy and innovation of two generations of Tony's proteges make all that physical entertainment a mainstay in today's teppanyaki grilling.

"I do much more physical entertainment with the new generation," said Nemoto. "Old school like me has a difficult time keeping up with them!"

"He is very entertaining," said Katrice Murell of Raleigh/Northeast Memphis. "I just get off on him cooking in front of me. Just a fun feel!"


Fork It Over Catering, 2299 Young Avenue, Midtown Memphis (Cooper-Young), 100 on March 30.

Grandma's Desserts, 3108 Park Ave., East Memphis, 98 on March 30.

Ruby's Sizzling Skillet, 645 Semmes St., Orange Mound (South Memphis), 98 on March 29.

Hideaway Lounge, 5030 Navy Rd., Millington, TN, 98 on March 29.

Sweetgrass, 937 S. Cooper, Midtown Memphis (Cooper-Young), 97 on March 30.

Katie's Kitchen, 9056 Poplar Pike, Germantown, TN, 97 on March 29.

Central BBQ, 4375 Summer Ave., East Memphis (Gaisman Park), 75 on March 29.

El Toro Loco, 2617 Poplar, East Memphis (Binghampton), 73 on March 28. 

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