Since we've been documenting the chef de cuisine changes at Wolfgang Puck's downtown restaurant, WP24, we thought we'd check in at Spago, where they had a chef change a few months ago. Although Lee Hefter is the executive chef, the chef de cuisine position was vacated in September, when longtime Spago chef Thomas Boyce decamped for Portland, Oregon, with his wife, pastry chef Kim Boyce, and their kids. Yet another longtime Puck chef, Tetsu Yahagi, filled the position.
Yahagi, who is from Fukuyoka, Japan, moved with his family to California when he was a boy. He later graduated from culinary school in Japan, trained in France and returned to cook in Japan, where he was opening sous chef for the Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in Tokyo.
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Yahagi trained with Hefter, who eventually brought him to Spago, where Yahagi has been for the last five years. A long time at one restaurant for most chefs, but not, seemingly, for people who work for Puck. Yahagi still has a few years to go before he catches up to Lee Hefter and pastry chef Sherry Yard, who started with Puck in 1993 and 1994, respectively, but it's a start.