Chef Tommy Begay III
Chef, OBON Sushi/ Sushi Consultant, Flora’s Market Run
While most chefs in Tucson’s tight-knit sushi community are from Japan, Korea and China, Arizona native Tommy Begay III is a Navajo who grew up in a small reservation community in the Four Corners area.
Learning to cook from his mother, making traditional Navajo meals for his family, he’s become a staple in the Tucson culinary scene by building his reputation as a sushi chef.
Chef Tommy’s professional career began at Pei Wei Asian Diner, where he moved up the ranks to trainer, kitchen manager and assistant general manager. A fellow chef offered him the chance to open their own restaurant, Café 940 at Main Gate Square. After the restaurant permanently closed, he returned to Asian cuisine at Neo of Melaka. Once Neo implemented sushi onto their menu, he learned the beauty of sushi’s simplicity while making rice for sushi Chef Yasutaka Kojima.
Seeking to focus on sushi, Chef Tommy spent four years at RA Sushi until Tucson legend Chef Yoshinobu “Yoshi” Shiratori and offered him a position at Sushi on Oracle, where he worked for eight years.
Stints as Chef de Cuisine at The Red Light Lounge at The Downtown Clifton and Executive Chef at Commoner & Co. followed. You can currently watch his knife dance at OBON Sushi and as the sushi consultant at Flora’s Market Run.