A Boston native, chef Cushman earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz & Classical Guitar from Berklee School of Music in Boston, then moved to California in the early 1980s to pursue the music business. Cushman took a job in a restaurant, as many aspiring musicians do. That was the start of what would become a culinary adventure around the world.
He has spent years cooking in countries like Japan, France, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico and Taiwan. In that time, he also served for seven years as a Corporate Chef with Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago, where he developed menus for the group’s new concepts.
In 1994, Cushman launched his own consulting business, Ideas in Taste, and developed menus for a variety of restaurateurs, from independents to large operators.
Presently, Cushman and his wife, Nancy, are co-proprietors of o ya, an award-winning, contemporary Japanese restaurant in Boston. Since opening, he and o ya have received numerous accolades, including a 2011 James Beard Nomination for Best Chef Northeast and being named by New York Times food critic, Frank Bruni, as the #1 new restaurant in the United States in 2008.
Since its opening, the accolades have been piling up – o ya was awarded a 29 food rating in the 2011/12 Zagat Guide. Cushman was also picked as a Best New Chef 2008 by Food & Wine, which also selected o ya as one of the top 10 new restaurants in the world. Bon Appetit and Details magazines have recognized o ya as one of the top 10 sushi restaurants in the United States. Boston Magazine named o ya as the #1 restaurant in Boston in 2009, and Best of Boston for four consecutive years.
In 2015, the husband and wife added the fun-loving Hojoko to their restaurant roster, with Cushman manning the kitchens.