Takashi Omae, 45, is the owner-chef at Awajiya, an udon and soba restaurant in Osaka. A ramen chef for five years, he enjoys coming up with ramen-udon fusion recipes. Omae places a great deal of importance on volunteering in the community and has begun donating food to help people in need.

1. Where did you grow up? I’m from Hashimoto in Wakayama Prefecture. It’s a beautiful place that is famous for delicious kaki (persimmons) and saba (mackerel). I live in Osaka now, but still go to Wakayama often because I have a second home in Inamicho. I can open the front door and walk to the sea in 10 seconds.

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