Interviewed August 2013
Q How long have you been cooking professionally?
A. Since the age of 19, so for 24 years now.
Q. Where did you train to cook?
A. Across various Japanese restaurants in Shikoku, the four islands of Japan.
Q. How would you describe your style of cooking?
A. Within the process of my cooking, I try to emphasise why I have done certain things in a given style. My cuisine is about sharing the richness of what the Japanese natural environment has to offer and I achieve that by letting the natural strength of each ingredient shine. My cuisine is about the expression of being Japanese.
Q. Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
A. For me I believe success came because of my desire and passion for cooking. Unlike the views of some chefs, being a chef has always been my passion and much more than a job. I think that is important to have a successful restaurant.
Q. Do you have a "signature dish" or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
A. My favourite type of dishes involve fish. I love how the texture and flavour of fish can be completely different just by the way you use a knife. Otherwise, I also love dishes that use charcoal.
Q. Do you have a favourite ingredient?
A. I absolutely love the summertime "Pike Conger" (in Japanese it is pronounced Hamo), and also wild eel and wild sweetfish (ayu).
Q. Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
A. Au gout de jour Nouvelle, which is located in Tokyo.
Q. What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
A. After going independent when I managed to represent Japan to the world's culinary society.
Q. What would be your "last request" dish?
A. The Ultimate dish for me is not just about technique and taste but it's also about using the abundant natural ingredients of any given environment and drawing out its strength, thereby impressing the guests.
Q. Is there another chef that you most admire?
A. I respect all chefs around the world as comrades who also pursue the same dream of mine.
Q. Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
A. That it is important to communicate your vision of the world through your technique, words and philosophy to your team in order to succeed together as a team.
Q. Any final thoughts you'd like to share e.g. new developments at the restaurant?
A. Not at this stage. For me it is obviously important to go out to the world and see what is out there by travelling, but right now what is the most important thing to me is to be in my restaurant and lead my team and face the day to day events that occur in the restaurant.
(thanks to Yuki Omura for the translation)