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The Morimoto Touch: The Knife-Wielding Iron Chef Turns Napa on Its Head

From the envelope-pushing vegetarian Ubuntu to Neela’s, the Indian restaurant opened by Neela Paniz, the town of Napa is bound and determined to become a dining destination like Yountville. But unlike its popular sibling, Napa is bucking wine country’s typical Eurocentric point of view—most impactfully by the opening of the trendy Japanese-influenced Morimoto Napa. Although Food Network celeb chef Masaharu Morimoto has five other restaurants to attend to, you might spot the 55-year-old at this insta-scene attending to the kitchen in a chef’s coat, homeboy-style shorts, and white sneakers. Surrounded by diners downing sake and pricey sushi, you could easily be somewhere far away, like Honolulu—which is exactly where his next restaurant is headed this fall.

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