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My Valley of the Sun: Miles Newcomer of Sushi Roku

Sushi chef Miles Newcomer's passion in the kitchen extends to his life in the Valley

A Valley native, Miles Newcomer looks forward to each day in the kitchen working as head sushi chef at Sushi Roku—never taking a moment in his career for granted. His passion extends to his family and friends, and he enjoys every opportunity to soak up the city while in good company.

What brought you to Arizona, if not from here originally?

You're going to have to ask my folks on this one. My parents brought me here before I was even born. I am a local, and darn proud to be one.

What made you want to become a sushi chef?

I have been a chef since the day I was born. A "chef" isn't a profession someone takes; it’s inside you. It doesn't matter if you’re looking in a pan or staring at a cutting boar—it just makes sense. You don’t ask a painter why he paints, or a sailor why he sails; they just do it because they have to. We always know where we are going, but most of the time no idea how we are going to get there. My destination was a chef; my path was sushi. I didn't choose it; it chose me, and I’m glad it did because it’s been an awesome ride.

How has working at Sushi Roku shaped who you are as a chef?

In every way possible. Sushi Roku has not only helped me grow as a chef, but a person. I am forever grateful.

Sushi Roku
Sushi Roku (©Innovative Dining Group)

What has been your proudest moment or biggest accomplishment in your professional career so far?

There are two: The first one was when my Exec. Hiroshi Shima asked me to be a head chef. When he pulled me aside I thought I was getting fired. Instead, I felt complete disbelief and absolute joy, a feeling I will never forget. Second, and maybe even more important, was when my parents came to eat for the first time. My mom started to tear up which, in turn, made me do the same. It was an intense moment of such raw, positive emotion.

What are your favorite kinds of sushi to make and to eat?

To eat? Uni! No question about it. To prepare? Probably mackerel. I love the whole process—the feel of the cut, the curing, everything. It’s one of those products that is so widely used but so easily manipulated through technique.

What is your favorite non-sushi dish to make and/or eat?

One of my favorite dishes to make and eat is soup. I love the execution of it. It is the personification of technique, patience and attention to detail resulting in something that is truly soul satisfying. Doesn't matter if it is chicken, beef or cream based, it always pleases.

What is your favorite, local grocery store and why?

I live right down the streets from a Sprouts Farmers Market, so I usually shop there, but if I need some Asian influence I go to Lee Lee’s for a solid variety.

When you go out to eat in the Valley, what kinds of restaurants do you like to dine at?

It really doesn't matter; I love trying new things. I’ve been on a Virtu kick recently—they consistently kill it over there. Hats off to their staff!

Starter plate at Virtu (©Awe Collective)
When you’re not in the kitchen, what do you like to do?

I am always in reach for new music—doesn't matter what genre, just something that moves me. Other than that, anything that brings me outside. If I can fall asleep to the sight of stars and sounds of the great outdoors, I am at peace.

What do you love most about living and working in the Valley?

It’s probably the fact that, even though the culinary scene here is continually growing and progressing, there is always room to make for another chef. I have made so many lifelong friendships. It’s a big-city scene with small-city ideals. Chefs look out for their own here. It’s almost like a special society here, but maybe that's everywhere. At least I hope so.

Follow in Newcomer's footsteps with his "Perfect Day" itinerary.