Born in Greenwich, Connecticut and raised in Hudson Valley, New York, Ambrely Ouimette’s path to culinary recognition began with humble intentions. Her earliest memories are all tied to the kitchen and food: growing up on a small farm miles from a traditional grocery store harvesting from a family garden; her grandmother instructing her how to hold a knife before she could see over the kitchen counter; watching cooking shows; learning the basics of cooking, baking, and realizing both the joy and necessity of providing meals for family and friends. In a household with Italian and Ukrainian roots, Sundays were spent cooking feasts to be enjoyed around the table, sparking Ouimette’s lifelong love of feeding people.
During culinary school at SUNY Delhi, Ouimette learned to refine her craft and think on the fly as part of the program’s culinary competitive team. And after graduating in 2008 with a Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management degree, Ouimette’s career began to take off. It did not take long for her to hone in on the grace and ‘calm in the chaos’ that could be only attained from a path honoring sushi, igniting a lifelong passion and deep-rooted sense of belonging that would lead Ouimette to spend the next 15 years distilling and shaping in her own expressive vision.
At Latitude 43 (Gloucester, MA), Ouimette began working diligently to carve out a role for herself in the male-dominated industry. Chef Ouimette proved her worth for the opportunity to assist behind the sushi bar after months of volunteering to help prepare wasabi, wash rice, and clean after service. Ouimette self-taught how to sharpen her knives in the traditional and painstaking manner with whetstones, a technique that required hours of dedicated practice to master but earned her respect from her colleagues. She found herself promoted to apprenticeship, where over a yearlong training under the guidance of Chef Nori X she began to push both personal and artistic boundaries. Ouimette went on to further hone her skills through some of the country’s most renowned seafood-focused kitchens, including Toro (New York City) and alongside the renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (Matsuhisa Denver) and Chef Jason
McLeod (Ironside Fish & Oyster) sharpening an already innate understanding of the importance of seasonality and bracingly perfect seafood.
Though traditionally taught, Ouimette’s style has evolved to become uniquely her own: ensuring her guests feel they are part of an intimate experience in an exploration of contemporary and unexpected flavors amid a lively, inviting atmosphere. Chef Ouimette creates a collaborative atmosphere where the sushi – prepared mere inches from guests’ plates – cohesively blends the traditional art of sushi and Chef Ouimette’s personal relationships with top vendors, both local and overseas. The result is a bespoke experience that makes tangible Ouimette’s passion for unexpected flavor combinations and expressive interpretation.
Chef Ouimette is currently at the helm of Sushi|Bar Hospitality Group with locations in Austin, Miami Beach and multiple new sites under development. After being named Executive Chef of Sushi|Bar ATX in 2021, Ouimette refined the 17-course, Omakase-style experience to one that is a departure from traditional stylings and features contemporary nigiri enhanced with a collection of personally crafted ferments, salts, koshōs, and unique condiments. These flourishes each have a personal story and recall back her upbringing whether in Hudson Valley, Maine or Europe; tying together a sensibility about sushi that is not found in most kitchens and by a gender that is even less visible. As one of the country’s only female omakase chefs, Ouimette is steadfast in her dedication to creating a hospitable space for more women to enter and feel welcomed from which they have long been shunned. Her life’s work is to propel a sushi-interested sisterhood, providing a solace that she fought long to achieve.