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Chef's Choice is a Unique and Inspiring Book that is a Perfect Gift for
Aspiring Culinary Students, Home Cooks, and Professional Chefs

"Chef's Choice is a beautiful book." - Marcus Samuelsson

Message from Saori Kawano, Founder and President of Korin Japanese Trading Corp

I am happy and proud to announce that after its first year in print Chef's Choice: 22 Culinary Masters Tell How Japanese Food Culture Influenced Their Careers and Cuisine continues to inspire and educate new and experienced chefs.

In this savory collection of mini memoirs, 22 culinary masters tell who and what motivated them to become chefs. They described early career influences, training, favorite Japanese ingredients, tools, and the pivotal role Japanese food culture has played in their cuisine and professional development.

Participating chefs include Nobu Matsuhisa, David Bouley, Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael Romano, Lee Anne Wong, Michael Anthony, Wylie Dufresne, Toshio Suzuki, Ben Pollinger, Toni Robertson, Eddy Leroux, Nils Norén, Yosuke Suga, Shinichiro Takagi, Suvir Saran, David Myers, Noriyuki Sugie, Elizabeth Andoh, Barry Wine, James Wierzelewski, and Ben Flatt.

Our goal in writing the book was to inspire, educate, and movitate student chefs, working chefs, home chefs, and everyone who admires Japanese food and culture. We wanted to go deep and learn from top chefs what it takes to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive restaurant world and the role that Japanese food culture played in their cooking and careers. We believe that the stories in Chef’s Choice can be a valuable resource for anyone pursuing a career in the restaurant business and those fascinated by Japanese food culture and cuisine.

We hope you enjoy it!

Chef's Choice Regular price $19.95 | Koirn Price: $15 Click Here

Influences

My first interaction with the Japanese culture was not only on the food level, but also with the service, the tableware, and the way Japanese cuisine differed from French cooking.

My first contact with Japanese cuisine was in 1984 at the first Japanese restaurant in Paris. I didn’t know what sushi was. I went there because I’d heard about it, and I was curious. But I made a mistake. I thought wasabi was something sweet. The color looked so inoffensive that I ate a lot of it in one bite. Whew! That was my first contact with Japanese food! Although I was not accustomed to eating raw fish, I was fascinated by how they were preparing the rice and fish. And that incident with wasabi really made me curious about Japanese food. I also went to a yakitori restaurant in Paris. Although I couldn’t see the staff grilling the yakitori, I knew they were doing it the traditional Japanese way. It felt as if this food was from another planet. I’d never seen anything like it.

The chef I worked for, Joël Robuchon, was a fanatic about Japanese food and culture. At that time in Paris, he was the first chef to go to Japan and immerse himself in the culture. And he was the first chef to bring Japanese influences into French cooking. Nobody before him had ever done that. So my first interaction with the Japanese culture was not only on the food level, but also with the service, the tableware, and the way Japanese cuisine differed from French cooking.

So while the French create sauce to hide the smell and to complement the fish, the Japanese do the opposite.

When I came to the U.S. in 1990, David Bouley took me to a Japanese restaurant, and explained the food to me, and taught me how to eat sushi and drink saké. Slowly, I developed a passion for sushi, and slowly, I absorbed it and began integrating Japanese ingredients into our cooking here at Le Bernardin. No one in the world has the reverence for fish and the knowledge about its preparation like the Japanese. Of course, the French cook fish well. However, the French invented sauce for fish a long time ago, when there was no ice or refrigeration, to hide its bad smell. So while the French create sauce to hide the smell and to complement the fish, the Japanese do the opposite. Their fish is so fresh and so beautiful that they hardly do anything to it. They find the perfect cut and add the perfect little touch that’s going to elevate the fish to the next level.

Coming from a different background and discovering this philosophy has become very addictive. The more I know––and I know a little––the more I want to know. When I went to Masayoshi Takayama’s restaurant in Los Angeles for the first time, it was a revelation. That guy is good! I finally went to Japan in November 2007. I ate in a lot of places where Mr. Robuchon sent me. “Go there! Go there! Go there!” I didn’t even know the names of the places he referred me to because I couldn’t read them. No one spoke English, and they didn’t tell me the name of the restaurant. At one place there was a guy just doing tempura. And another was just doing sushi. I went to some places where they were creating food a little like the way Masa does by using tasting menus with interesting influences.

The only Japanese chef’s name I remember is Jiro, because it sounded French to me. I was very impressed with his restaurant because the 78-year-old master, Chef Jiro Ono, said, “You come at 12:35 p.m., not 12:30 p.m., not 12:45 p.m., but 12:35 p.m. The rice is cooked for 12:35 p.m.” When he gives it to you, you eat it immediately. The rice goes into your mouth and melts––it’s extraordinary! Then you eat 20 pieces of sushi in 20 minutes––it’s perfection.

I was there the day they told Chef Ono that he had received three Michelin stars. He just said, “Thank you. Eat your sushi.” I’m sure he was celebrating, but he had a very silent way of doing so. He wasn’t jumping up and down on his table or shaking his knives. But I knew he was happy, because he smiled.

(Click here for a free PDF download of ERIC RIPERT’s complete mini memoir.)