Kazuhiro (Kaz) Okochi Announced as NEO 2021 Outstanding Alumnus Award Recipient
Miami, Okla. – Thursday, September 9, 2021 –Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) announced Kaz Okochi as the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Alumnus Award from the School of Liberal Arts. The Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet and Alumni Reception, originally scheduled during homecoming weekend, have been postponed to a date to be determined next spring in light of the ever-changing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okochi grew up in Nagoya, Japan. He graduated from NEO in 1982 and returned to Japan to attend Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka. While in culinary school, Okochi studied all forms of cuisines such as French and Chinese cooking, ice carving, pastry and traditional Japanese. After studying in Osaka for five years, Okochi returned to the U.S in 1988. He began working for Sushi-Ko in Washington, D.C. as an Executive Chef. He was one of the first Japanese chefs in America to develop modern menu items from time-honored Japanese recipes. He was also the first to introduce premium Japanese sakes to the nation’s capital in 1992.
Okochi opened KAZ Sushi Bistro in downtown Washington, D.C. in 1999. The bistro was named one of the year’s top five new restaurants by The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan. He also won the 2000 RAMMY Award for New Restaurant of the Year, 2006 and 2012 Chef of the Year Finalist, 2012 Informal Dining Restaurant of the Year, and Washington Magazine’s Best 100.
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