Meet the people responsible for creating Zilla’s unique experience.
Kate Koo – Sushi Chef/Co-Owner
Zilla Sake head sushi chef Kate Koo opened the sushi bar at Zilla in 2008. Her 16 years of sushi experience began with traditional apprenticeships under Japanese chefs: tutelage that still informs her exacting approach to the craft. Koo honors sushi’s tradition of simplicity, precision, and pursuit of unobtainable perfection—lessons she has passed on as a mentor to other young sushi chefs. Koo is a Sake Certified Professional through John Gauntner’s Sake Professional Course. In 2016, Koo passed the international Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Sake Award Level 3 with distinction; WSET’s highest level of achievement.
Sam J. Saltos – Sushi Chef/Co-Owner
Chef Sam J. Saltos received his classical training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, later working at New York’s Morimoto and the now two-Michelin-starred Acadia in Chicago. In 2011, he staged at Noma in Copenhagen, considered by many to have been the world’s best restaurant. In his hometown of Portland, Saltos served as lead sushi chef at Departure under Gregory Gourdet, with whom he won the 2012 Great American Seafood Cook-off—the first non-Gulf state to win this national competition. At Zilla Sake, Saltos focuses on meticulous traditional preparations, from house-made anago to Edo-style tamago-yaki.
Fukuko Eguchi-Gandelman – Sushi Chef
Fukuko moved to Portland from Japan in 2007. She started working at Zilla in 2008 shortly after it opened. The restaurant quickly became a second home for her. She feels like she has grown up and matured with the restaurant. Behind the sushi bar at Zilla She learned how to cut American roll style sushi and became comfortable speaking English. With almost a decade of experience–her precise and controlled movements are a treat to watch. She took some time in 2015 to focus on her family. We are happy to have her back on a regular basis.
Michael Huthmacher – Sushi Chef
Michael’s first opportunity to work as a sushi chef was at Zilla in 2012. He started his training under Kate Koo and Fukuko. After four plus years at Zilla, his skills have quickly progressed making him a key member of the team. Also, his personable nature and ability to speak both English and Japanese natively has helped create an inviting atmosphere for customers sitting at the sushi bar.
Mark Reasoner – Sushi Chef
Mark is one of our most experienced sushi chefs second only to Kate and Fukuko. He is a free spirit with many hidden talents. Well traveled, he speaks English, Spanish and Japanese. His gift for gab and genuine personality is infectious. We are looking to him and the rest of our junior staff to become the future leadership of Zilla. Start a conversation with him, you won’t be disappointed.
Chelsea Adams – Sushi Chef in Training
Chelsea started her career at Galatoire’s in New Orleans during her senior year of college at Tulane University. This job is what motivated her to seek further training at the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, she moved to Portland where she joined the team at Zilla. Chelsea focuses most of her attention on the Asa-Teishoku. Her specialty is our seasonal tsukemono. Meanwhile, she is being trained in sushi by Kate and Sam.
Logan Rubino – Server
The veteran server at Zilla, Logan exemplifies everything we offer our guests in terms of service, knowledge, and hospitality. He is always happy to take time to help navigate our comprehensive menu. Logan has dedicated himself to furthering his own knowledge as well as relationships he has with our guests.
Logan Knapp – Server
Logan has eight years of experience in the service industry. His love and interest in sake and Japanese culture made him a perfect fit with Zilla. He is a recent re-addition after a short hiatus to recover from an injury.