Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2023

Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2023

Hiroyasu Kawate

Florilège, Tokyo

Beloved chef blending French finesse and Japanese warmth

Hiroyasu Kawate was destined for a career in gastronomy. Not only did his parents own a western-style restaurant in Tokyo, but even his brother and cousin pursued the culinary arts, choosing Chinese cuisine and sushi as their respective areas of expertise. Having started working in kitchens at the age of 18, Kawate felt a strong affinity to French flavours and decided to move to France to expand his culinary horizons.

Once there, he trained at the iconic Jardin des Senses and immersed himself in French culture for a few years before returning to Tokyo to work alongside Shuzo Kishida at Quintessence, which was voted into several early editions of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Having made a promise to himself that one day he’d helm his own restaurant, he opened Florilège in 2009 at the age of 30.

Firmly grounded in French culinary techniques, Kawate’s cuisine at Florilège focuses on locality, seasonality and sustainability. Finding innovative ways to seamlessly marry the western techniques he fell in love with and the Japanese ingredients he deeply respects, he developed a unique style that proved popular with Tokyo’s discerning diners from the outset.

In 2015, Kawate moved Florilège to a new space in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, an elegant dining room featuring an open kitchen around whose counter 16 diners sit every night: he had found that no one could introduce the dishes better than the chefs themselves, who are closest to the ingredients and their preparation. The new format allowed for his infectious passion to be transmitted to every diner, leading to Florilège receiving the One To Watch Award in 2016.

An advocate of sustainability in gastronomy, Kawate considers every aspect of the impact of a dish during the creation process. His signature Beef Carpaccio, which uses the often-discarded meat of re-fattened aged cows, is a prime example – the meat is even served alongside a consommé sauce made from vegetable scraps.

Humble, soft-spoken and hardworking, Kawate has long been admired across Asia’s hospitality industry. He followed up Florilège’s success with the opening of sister restaurant Logy in Taiwan, then yakitori spot Denkushiflori in Tokyo, a collaboration with his long-time friend and fishing buddy Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den. Having played a key role in the development of Tokyo’s dining scene over the last 15 years, it was high time for Kawate to be recognised by his peers with the Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2023.