• Home
  • Chef's Choice - Michael Romano | Korin

Chef's Choice - Ben Pollinger

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

MICHAEL ROMANO shares what made his first trip to Japan a life-changing culinary experience.


I still have my notes from that meal at Kitcho, which was a complete immersion in Japanese culture, the likes of which I had never before experienced in my life.

I remember precisely the first time I really discovered Japanese food––and it was not in New York City. From 1981 to 1983, I was working in Switzerland for Max Kehl at his restaurant, Chez Max, and I was his chef de cuisine. In 1982, I accompanied Chef Kehl on a trip to Tokyo for a weeklong international cooking competition sponsored by Nestlé involving chefs from 15 restaurants from all over the world––China, France, Italy. America was there in the form of Paul Prudhomme. Max and I were representing Switzerland. This was long before the Iron Chef television shows ever came about.

We cooked every day for one week. Every day we were taken by bus from our hotel in downtown Tokyo to the TSUJI Culinary Institute in south Tokyo. Everything we needed was already set up, and we worked on our dishes. Each team had to prepare three dishes: an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. As we finished our dishes, we were judged by an international panel of judges, one of whom was Craig Claiborne. When the judging was over, everything was packed up and taken back to the hotel, which was in the midst of its grand opening. It all culminated in a live two-hour television broadcast from the hotel, which featured the final cooking competition and all kinds of entertainment. There were singers, and there was a sumo wrestler there as well. We were there being judged, and we had set up tables to display our food.

I was quite busy but still managed to get out for different dining experiences. In the evening, after cooking all day for the show, Max took me to dine with him in several places, one of which was Kitcho, one of Japan’s most exclusive traditional restaurants. I still have my notes from that meal, which was a complete immersion in Japanese culture, the likes of which I had never before experienced in my life.

During that week, I asked the Japanese guide I was assigned to take me to simple places where people ate every day. But the experience at Kitcho was so astounding that I can still remember all of the dishes we ate. We were in our own private room, and I was so impressed with the food, the décor, and the hospitality. I loved the fact that the plateware was selected because of the way it matched the seasonal foods being served. This was dining taken to a level of precision and refinement that I’d never before experienced.

And the service! When the kimono-clad server entered the room, she somehow glided from her standing position at the doorway to being seated at the edge of our table, but I never actually saw her sit down! There was only a gradual descent, an utterly graceful movement from door to table.

Once there, I expected her to begin clearing our plates, but instead she simply rested a moment, as if to allow the air she had displaced in the room to settle and for all to be perfectly still and calm. Then, slowly and precisely, she began to gather the items from the table. There was never a sound of the dishes touching. It was so elegant and graceful.

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