Ryoma Shida is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 finalist for Japan. The 26-year-old chef of ESqUISSE restaurant, Tokyo, will showcase his signature dish entitled “Umami” at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June. He spoke to us ahead of the big event.
1) Tell us about your signature dish.
It integrates French cooking techniques with Japanese culture and history, with full respect to the “umami” factor.
2) What made you decide to become a chef?
Even as a child, the kitchen was my favourite place in the house. I remember having fun imitating my mother’s cooking. Becoming a chef was a very natural consequence.
3) Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
1) Izumi Yamashita, chef de cuisine at restaurant L’osier. I respect his attitudes towards cooking. He is the personification of gastronomy, and an ideal chef for me.
2) Lionel Beccat, executive chef at restaurant ESqUISSE. He is not just an artisan but an artist, has very unique and distinctive perspectives, and working beside him brushes my senses.
3) Jean-Francois Piège. I’ve never worked with him in person, but I get many inspirations from what I see in photos and books.
4) What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it? The best dish is poularde de becasse etouffée ceps farci sont jus et truffe cooked by Izumi Yamashita at restaurant L'osier in 2009.
5) What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
How some of the world’s best chefs, with all their different cultural backgrounds, will evaluate a dish with a strong emphasis on Japanese culture.
6) What kind of help/guidance would you like from your mentor?
Advice on how to abstract maximum “umami” flavour with minimum loss, technically and also philosophically, from a Japanese culinary perspective.
7) What will you do if you win this competition?
I don’t want to think too far ahead. I’d like to report to my colleagues, my family, and the chefs who supported me, and express my full gratitude.