An Executive Sushi Chef and highly respected Los Angeles entrepreneur for over 30 years, Toshi Sugiura founded the California Sushi Academy in 1998, the first sushi school outside of Japan, out of a desire to share the beautiful traditions of Japanese cuisine with the world and provide this growing industry with professionally trained sushi chefs.
Toshi has been acclaimed as one of the key players in introducing sushi culture to the everyday Los Angeles dining scene since the 1970s when he began to serve the appetite of Angelinos at his legendary Hama in Venice.
A passionate gourmet and the first of the only four Certified Sake Masters Emeritus in the United States, Toshi shares his extensive knowledge with students as an instructor of the Academy. Also serving as a consultant to many restaurants, he is able to share the realities of sushi bar ownership with CSA’s prospective restaurateurs.
Toshi joined the judge panel of the first SushiMasters contest hosted by California Rice Commission in September 2005 as well as the USA Rice Federation’s California-Style Sushi Master Contest held in Tokyo, Japan in July 2006.
As a Los Angeles bureau chief of Sake Service Institute, Toshi joined the judge panel of the 2nd World Kikisake-shi (sake sommeliers) Competition’s Western Regional Competition in Los Angeles in September as well as its Tokyo final in October 2006.
James Lisanti holds a Bachelors of Science in Special Education from Indiana State University and has done graduate work at Chicago State College, National College of Education and Seabury Western Theological Institute. Chef Lisanti is an honors Graduate of Western Culinary Institute and the California Sushi Academy. He has been a guest lecturer at various colleges and universities across the United States. In addition to be certified as an instructor for the National Restaurant Association, he is a Master Certified Foodservice Executive by the International Food Service Executives Association.