Four-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Manabu Horiuchi (Chef Hori) was inspired by his mother at an early age to cook for a living. In fact, his first cooking job in his native Japan was at age 16 in the retirement home where his mother was the chef. After graduating from high school, Chef Hori moved to Osaka to attend the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Japan, the country’s most prestigious culinary school. He graduated with top honors and completed his special certification to prepare fugu (blowfish). His skill and curiosity took him to Tokyo in 1993 to work as Executive Assistant Chef under Chef Mamoru Sugiyama at his critically-acclaimed restaurant, Sushi-Ko Honten. Four years later, Chef Hori became the sous chef at Ichimura Kansai Kappou, a restaurant specializing in Osaka-style cuisine. He was recruited by the Japanese Consul General in 2000 to move to Houston as the Japanese Consulate private chef. When his two-year contract ended, he spent eight years at Kubo’s Sushi Bar before opening Kata Robata in 2009. Kata Robata was named the No. 1 restaurant in Houston by the Houston Chronicle in 2019.