Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani met in 1983 while working at Los Angeles' renowned restaurant, Spago. Hiro was there on a two-month training stint in preparation for a sous chef position at Spago's new Tokyo branch. Lissa had earned herself a position as a pastry cook after marching into the kitchen one night and asking Wolfgang Puck for a job. Over the next five years, serendipity and old-fashioned match-making on the part of Wolfgang Puck and his wife, Barbara, would bring the young couple together to combine their considerable talents in their own restaurant, Terra, in St. Helena, California, in 1988.
Hiro Sone was born into an eighteenth-generation rice farming family in the Miyagi district of Japan. Encouraged in his culinary interests by his grandfather, he attended the highly regarded Japanese cooking school, École Technique Hôtelière Tsuji, where he trained under such legendary French chefs as Paul Bocuse, Pierre Troisgros, and Joel Robuchon. During the course of his education, he was also exposed to chefs from Japan, China, Hong Kong and Italy. Just before graduation, he traveled through Europe visiting his teachers' restaurants-a formative experience that created the framework for what would become his own personal style of cuisine. After graduation, he worked in Tokyo at an Italian restaurant for five years, beginning as a dishwasher and working his way up to sous chef-an experience that he says taught him respect for every position in the kitchen. He credits growing up on a farm with teaching him respect for ingredients and the work that goes into raising them, as well as a sense for seasonality and using only what is ready in the garden.