Meet the Producer: Yoshi Shioda
Owner of Argo Century Tonton Sauces & Vinaigrettesuser rating
Maker of award-winning Tonton Sauces and Vinaigrettes, Yoshi Shioda and his wife, Toshiko, began their food careers in 1984 by opening Restaurant Tokyo, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., at a time when sushi was still seen as an exotic, unfamiliar food. They quickly gained a loyal following for their authentic offerings, which then inspired Shioda to expand his customer base by introducing a line of sauces, now available nationally.
Argo Century’s Tonton Sauces and Vinaigrettes quickly became a success, winning plenty of awards, including the NASFT sofi Award for Outstanding Oil, Vinegar or Salad Dressing with its Ginger and Vinaigrette flavors in 2000. What followed was a flurry of national media coverage that gave the company the exposure it needed to move forward. Today, they offer seven products, including Japanese Marinade & Dressings in Vinaigrette, Ginger and Sesame; Premium Stir-Fry and Glaze Sauces in Hibachi and Teriyaki; Yuzu Dressing & Marinade; and Kobe BBQ Yakiniku Brazier Sauce. And while the restaurant closed its doors as the manufacturing business grew, Shioda continues to follow his dream of bringing authentic Japanese foods to everyone in America—in convenient little bottles for the home.
Yoshi Shioda shares more with foodspring.com
What do you miss—and not miss—about running a restaurant?
I miss my customers. We really had very nice customers and many of them became friends. We do not miss day-to-day operation but we miss seeing customers’ faces.
What’s your favorite product in your line and how best do you like to use them?
Teriyaki. I think that is because it’s so versatile. I use it for stir-fry or as a flavor base to marinate protein. But there are so many ways to use it, so it is hard to pick one, but the simplest form is probably to glaze and grill chicken. It will become yakitori with no effort.
Who is your culinary idol and why?
I think I get inspiration from my grandmother and mother. Their food was not fancy or expensive but it was so delicious to me, with good memories. To me, food is a glue to bring family and friends closer and a memory maker. I learned that from them.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
A Japanese cream puff. You can buy them in places like New York and San Francisco.
Best meal ever?
At Ginza Kyubei, a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. The presentation was so beautiful and the tastes were incredible, like the two pieces of nigiri served in a totally different way. We could tell that the sushi chefs wanted to give us a pleasurable surprise.
Aside from your products, what three items can you always find in your kitchen?
If you weren’t making sauces, what would you be doing instead?
I would still be an engineer designing railroad tunnels or bridges in Japan.