Meet Chef Hidekazu Tojo: The Legendary Creator Of The California Roll


Japanese-Canadian Hidekazu Tojo has won several awards during his legendary 40-year career as a chef. Mostly recognized for inventing the hugely popular California roll, the Vancouver-based culinary master is now 66 and is still at the top of his game.

Just recently, Japan’s ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries appointed Tojo as the nation’s goodwill ambassador for Japanese cuisine.


The talented chef and owner of Tojo’s Restaurant began his culinary journey very early in his life. At a young age, he traveled to Osaka to study and further develop the cooking skills he learned at home. When he moved to Vancouver in 1971, he brought along his already honed talent.

In Vancouver, he created what he originally called “Tojo-maki,” which he later changed to “California roll” because of its popularity with Los Angeles visitors.

“When I came to Vancouver, most Western people did not eat raw fish,” he shared in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “When I went shopping for fish at stores back then, the fish was very fishy, very old. So I went to the fisherman wharf to get the very freshest. I explained that I needed fish caught that morning so I could serve it that afternoon.”


When he noticed that Westerners did not eat seaweed, he rolled the sushi inside-out to hide the ingredient.

“A lot of people from out of town came to my restaurant – lots from Los Angeles – and they loved it. That’s how it got called the California roll,” Tojo said. “I was against Japanese tradition with the inside-out roll, but I liked it, and my customers liked it. And so it spread all over – even into Japan.”

Written by Ryan General, NextShark


California Roll Nachos


Recipe: I Am a Food Blog


Craving: Dynamite Roll

A few years ago I found this small sushi place in Newport Beach, CA called Sakae. Their all-you-can-eat is amazing because it’s their entire menu with no limitations for $20. Resident Foodbeast Vyanie and I made the trip down there yesterday and this was a roll I had yet to try called the Dynamite Roll. It’s a California roll completely covered in sautéed onions, mushrooms and scallops. Trust me it was amazing.