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With three restaurants to his name - located in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taiwan - Japanese chef Seiji Yamamoto knows a thing or two about umami. He hopes to share this knowledge as a mentor in the upcoming S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 final to be held at Expo Milano 2015 in June.
Fine Dining Lovers caught up with chef Yamamto ahead of the big event to find out how he would help Japanese finalist Ryoma Shida beat the competition with his French techniques and Japanese cooking style. Here's what he had to say:
How you define your style of cuisine in one sentence?
Healing cuisine by Japan
What is your signature dish?
I have a principle of expressing the wonderfulness of Japan’s richness and natural environment. If I were to choose one, it would be the assorted sashimi plate, ATP and Aging. This consists of perfectly neural process applied seafood from the waters of Japan.
What are your restaurants?
NihonryoriRyuGin (Tokyo Japan) TenkuRyuGin (Hong Kong) ShounRyuGin (Taipei Taiwan)
Who was your most important mentor for your profession and why?
The producers, fishermen’s and the voices of the guests every day. Because the reality is there.
What’s the best advice you were ever given when you were training?
What cooking a dish really means, not just preparing with what you are feeling but to have an exact reason to why you have prepared the dish. In Japanese cuisine, as we go pass the four seasons, we prepare the dishes not just the things we see with our eyes but also the things we can’t see. Also to inspire the guest’s soul and this is what Japanese cuisine truly is.
Do you remember one of the big mistakes you made in a kitchen when you were training?( Can you explain what happened and what you learned?)
When I was preparing sashimi at an open counter kitchen, I accidently cut my hand deeply and the chopping board and the sashimi were covered in blood, as the guests were there to see the incident.
Is there one mistake you see young chefs making very often? What should they do do instead?
They incorporate only their individuality and techniques on the plate, and not respecting the ingredients. They could improve by not misappropriating dishes to be their own.
What are the best characteristics a young chef can have, nowadays?
The fact that they are looking ahead to the world, and having a steady vision of their future that is drawn is excellent. And the ability to adapt to their own surrounding environment is outstanding.
What are the worst?
They only go after the trend, valuation, technique and originality.
What’s your main focus in advising the S.Pellegrino Young Chef candidate of your region?
Think about the guest’s satisfaction, rather than your own. And think about what natural style of Japanese really is.
What’s your message to all the finalists of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 worldwide?
You must demonstrate with your own strength that this is a world-wide stage. And also think about the essential qualities of the dishes and how to make an impression on one. I will be waiting on the answers.