The Japanese Chefs Weigh In

Yesterday began with a long interview with a renowned sushi chef @ SORA, his place, on the 38th floor of Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo.  Precise cutting and focus as he spoke about the seasonality of his work in view of the city stretching out languorously below.  Sora means sky in Japanese.  The decor was stark and black and gray of his digs.

Then it was a second interview with Chef Ooe, whom I’ve known many years, at KOZUE, his kaiseki place embedded within Park Hyatt.  The chef had prepared and written lengthy, detailed, and fascinating responses to my questions about seasonality.

Both chefs emphasized the long standing spiritual links between modern cuisine and ninth century traditions.  Earlier in the week, I’d wondered if these conversations could take place with Western chefs regarding religiosity and cooking, and, sure, they could.  The implication in the West is that the chef is above nature while here, traditionally, the chef is part of it.

Much later, it was a full house @ NY Grill at the formidable Park Hyatt, and now, within twenty minutes, I’m off to Ohta, Tokyo’s fruit and vegetable market, with Park Hyatt’s executive chef.  We’re searching for seasonal produce.

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