This piece is part of our 21 Local Innovators To Watch roundup in the August 2022 print issue of District Fray. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
District Fray: But I was a cheerleader
Masako Moishita: I moved to Washington, D.C in 2013. I didn’t think I was going to cook for my career back then; I came to D.C. because I was a cheerleader for the former Washington Redskins. I was on a team for five years, and understood I couldn’t dance forever. [I asked myself,] “What else do I feel passionate about?”
My family has actually run a little bar restaurant in Japan for 100 years now. My mom and my grandma are both chefs; I literally grew up in the restaurant industry. I learned a lot of basics from my mother, and my grandma’s cooking. So, I started bringing some of the food I usually cook at home to team potlucks and everybody was like, “What is this?” The potlucks got me thinking this might be next for me, and I started out doing pop-ups and events throughout the city.
I think I have a unique background: I’m an immigrant woman cooking food that’s authentic. I think that’s rare in the D.C. food scene, and I feel responsible to be successful. A lot of people are hesitant to follow their dreams or calling, because it’s really hard. But if I can be successful, I believe I can encourage people like me to do their thing.
Dancing and cooking are completely different, but being a [good team] member and leader is exactly the same.
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