As a child, Asher delighted in the smells rising from his grandmother’s stove top, took comfort in standing by his grandfather’s griddle at Sunday pancake breakfasts, and relished his mother’s immaculate spread at his family’s annual latke parties. His high school summers were spent building sandwiches at the deli counter of the family-owned Three Girls Bakery in the Pike Place Market, dreaming of someday going on a senior trip to Japan.

After an unforgettable year abroad in Kyoto, absorbing the local language and cuisine, Asher graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s in Asian language and culture. He promptly returned to Japan, this time as an English teacher with the JET program. In the southern fishing city of Akune, Asher connected with his community, chatting with grill masters at smokey yakitori counters, foraging the mountains for spring herbs with lifelong natives and learning local recipes in cooking classes with legendary homemakers.

Asher returned to Seattle with a treasure chest of culinary memories, and has kept his love for food, hospitality and Japan central to his endeavors as an administrator for the Japanese Agricultural Training Program, working at Japanese restaurants, and interpreting for private tours to Japan. All of these experiences inspire Asher’s cooking, both at home and in the classes he teaches at the Pantry, where he also likes to share his not-so-secret obsession for cooking eggs and anything with crispy edges.