Tyson Cole, Partner & Chef
Best Chef Southwest, James Beard Foundation 2011
One of the few American sushi masters, James Beard Award-winning Chef and Owner Tyson Cole is a passionate student of the Japanese tradition. Having trained for more than 10 years in Tokyo, New York, and Austin under two different sushi masters, he continues his path of study and experimentation each day at the restaurants in the Hai Hospitality family. Employing classical cooking techniques with a Pacific Rim perspective, Cole marries global ingredients with traditional Japanese flavors, resulting in inspired combinations of flavor, texture, color, technique, and style.
Cole became fascinated with sushi in his early twenties while working at an Austin Japanese restaurant and quickly dedicated himself to learning every aspect of the cuisine. Working his way up from dishwasher to head sushi chef, his dexterity with the knife led him to Austin’s top sushi restaurant Musashino. During an intensive traditional apprenticeship under owner Takehiko Fuse, Cole traveled to Japan to experience the cuisine firsthand while gaining technical skill.
Challenged by Fuse to learn the Japanese language, Cole moved on to train at Bond Street, one of the busiest sushi restaurants in New York City. In his last year at Musashino, Cole ran the restaurant in Fuse’s absence and began experimenting with new flavor ideas, influences, and ingredients. Opening Uchi in 2003 as executive chef and co-owner, Cole quickly garnered national attention, most notably a coveted spot on Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2005 list; a James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef: Southwest” in 2011; and a James Beard Foundation semifinalist spot for “Outstanding Chef” in 2016 among many other accolades.
Citing the newly easy accessibility of ingredients and flavors from across the globe, Cole continues to push the envelope with every bite, stating, “The cuisine I create is playfully multi-cultural, mixing the Japanese tradition with tastes that inspire me.”
Michael Castillo, Chef de Cuisine
Houston-born Michael Castillo has over fourteen years of culinary experience and is skilled both in the kitchen and on the managerial side of the restaurant business. Encouraged by his parents to get a job in high school, Castillo was immediately drawn to food and began working as a line cook at age 16.
In 2004, Castillo got a job at Houston Country Club, where he remained for over eight years. Quickly rising to the position of the restaurant chef, Castillo trained and supervised thirteen cooks and chefs, and was responsible for the menus for both formal and informal dining rooms. The ever changing and themed menus at HCC exposed Castillo to many types of cuisine, providing him a unique arsenal of skills in the kitchen.
Joining the Uchi team in 2012, Castillo thrives on the menu creativity at Uchi and artistic presentation brought to each dish. After spending a few years at Uchi Houston, Castillo became the chef de cuisine at Uchi Austin in 2014.
“Austin’s culinary scene is continuing to evolve and I am excited to be a part of the unique and exciting group that is Uchi,” comments Castillo.
Castillo and his wife, also a chef, reside in Austin with their son.