Chefs’ Choice Award 2018, sponsored by Estrella Damm

The Japanese master of taste and sustainability

Yoshihiro Narisawa

Narisawa, Tokyo

The Japanese master of taste and sustainability

Born in the Aichi prefecture of Japan, Yoshihiro Narisawa had his heart set on becoming a chef early in life. At the age of 19, he embarked on a trip to Europe that would set him up to become one of the most respected figures in Asian gastronomy.

Within the next decade, he trained under legendary chef Paul Bocuse and spent time in the kitchen of Joël Robuchon in France. In Switzerland, he worked for Frédy Girardet and in Italy at Antica Osteria del Ponte with Ezio Santin. This period helped him achieve a high level of technical skill, matched with his natural creativity, which he put into practice when he returned to his home country, with the opening of La Napoule in Odawara in 1996.

The rich landscape that surrounded the city – from mountains and rivers to the Sagami Bay – enhanced the chef’s sensitivity to the environment and exposed him to a variety of high quality products, resulting in Narisawa’s cuisine becoming more seasonal and deepening its connection to nature. With these tenets in mind, the chef moved the restaurant to its current location in Tokyo under the name Les Créations de Narisawa in 2003, and later renamed it simply Narisawa.

Over the years, the chef’s unique style has developed to incorporate more elements that reflect Narisawa-san’s deep fascination with nature, while features of his French training still remain. In its latest incarnation, the chef calls his cuisine “innovative satoyama,” deriving from “sato” – or community in Japanese – and “yama,” or forest.

With the intent of representing the symbiotic relationship between people and nature, Narisawa creates dishes that explore the side of Japanese culture closer to the environment, with sustainability and respect to the wildlife in mind.

Satoyama Scenery, the chef’s signature serving, incorporates natural elements that you experience with all five senses. A cup filled with a blended essence of cedar and oak trees is presented first, then you taste a variety of wild Japanese herbs, picked seasonally. Finally, the dish includes a yoghurt made with soy beans through fermentation, a traditional Japanese technique for storing and enhancing food. Served on a piece of wood cut from the edge of a tree trunk, Satoyama Scenery exemplifies the fine balance of unique taste and sustainable concerns that have come to define Narisawa’s style.

In 2013, Narisawa won the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and the the chef continues to influence many of his peers, earning the respect of the Asian gastronomic community in the process.

Minami Ayoyama 2-6-15
Tokyo 107-0062
+81 3 5785 0799

Images: Sergio Coimbra; portrait: Akira Saito

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