Local News

Chef makes sushi roll to help Japan quake victims

Posted April 15, 2011 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2011 6:53 p.m. EDT

— A month after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, a Triangle sushi chef is on a mission that mixes family, food and fundraising.

Yuya Chiba, who works at Kanki steakhouse in Durham, watched in astonishment and helplessness from 7,000 miles away as a tsunami rolled over his hometown, Sendai.

"I still don't think that I can believe it right now," Chiba said.

His parents, grandmother and brother all survived in Sendai, which was the epicenter of the quake.

Chiba, though, thought his childhood best friend was dead.

"I was surprised. He was alive. I was very happy," he said.

A month after the quake, Chiba's family is struggling with food, water and gas shortages and the threat of radiation. They live about 80 miles from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and asked him to help them buy radiation detectors this week.

Chiba can't go there to help, so he decided to do what sushi chef does best – design a new sushi roll.

"I think nobody makes it like this," he said.

The three Kanki restaurants in the Triangle are selling Chiba's new sushi roll for $10, and half of the charge will go to the Japanese Relief Fund established by the United Nations Children's Fund.

The restaurants are also selling original artwork and T-shirts designed by Chiba, with proceeds going to the relief fund.

Chiba said that just cleaning up his hometown will take years – not to mention complete recovery from the disaster.

"It's not over," he said.