National Convention Speaker Spotlight: Ivan Orkin

We’re counting down the weeks until ACF National Convention: Orlando with an in-depth introduction to some of our great speakers. Visit acfchefs.org/convention to see the full schedule.

Registration is still open! Call (800) 624-9458 to speak with an events team member now. Onsite registration will also be available.

If you can’t make it this year, don’t forget to register for Conference On-Demand to see recorded sessions of all our Main Stage speakers!

Ivan Orkin’s journey began with a dishwashing job at a sushi bar when he was 15. He discovered a culture and cuisine that would shape the rest of his life.

Upon graduating high school, Orkin decided to major in Japanese language and literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After graduating, Orkin immediately moved to Japan to teach English which quickly cemented his love of everything Japanese.

He returned to the U.S. in 1990 and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, and began his culinary training.

Black and white photo of Ivan Orkin

After his graduation from the CIA, and stints at Mesa Grill, Lutece and Restaurant Associates, Orkin returned to Tokyo to live in the country that he fell in love with. He had still never given thought to combining his love for cooking and Japan, but that was soon to change. Orkin was anxious to start a food-related business in Japan but was unsure of which direction to take.

He thought about opening a cooking school, a sandwich shop, even a pizzeria. It was his wife’s suggestion that he open a ramen shop.

This move seemed destined for failure in a country where ramen enjoys a cult-like status. Incredibly, Orkin not only succeeded, but became one of the top ramen shops in Tokyo, an unheard-of accomplishment for a foreigner. In 2010, a second shop, Orkin Ramen Plus, was opened.

In 2012, Orkin returned to New York with the hopes of opening a business back home, while continuing to operate his two shops in Tokyo. In the meantime, his cookbook “Ivan Ramen” was published. His first venture in the U.S., Orkin Ramen Slurp Shop, opened at the Gotham West Market on 600 11th Avenue in November of 2013 to huge crowds and critical acclaim.

Soon after, his US flagship, Orkin Ramen opened at 25 Clinton Street on New York’s Lower East side.

Both restaurants continue to enjoy critical acclaim and have been mentioned in countless magazines, websites, blogs, and television programs. Orkin is widely recognized as the American authority on ramen and all things Japanese. His effortless crossover from American to Japanese cultures has given him a distinct advantage. He speaks fluent Japanese, and has a deep understanding of the culture which allows him to present a product that appeals to both Japanese and American audiences.

In February of 2017 Ivan was featured in the hit Netflix series “Chefs Table,” instantly vaulting him into the company of some of the world’s great chefs and restaurateurs. This honor has driven even more fans of ramen into the Ivan’s restaurants where he continues to serve them his uniquely “Ivan” cuisine.

In a special presentation sponsored by Custom Culinary, Chef Ivan Orkin will demonstrate the preparation of dashi, while he shares his thoughts and philosophy on the cooking broth’s various applications in Japanese and Western Cuisines.

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