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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

Welcome to 2019! After publishing Chef’s Choice: 22 Culinary Masters Tell How Japanese Food Culture Influenced Their Careers and Cuisine in 2015, it continues to inspire and educate new and experienced chefs, culinary students, and those who love Japanese food and culture.

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

I learned from Chef Ishinabe that cooking is important to a chef, but so is creating a team in order to nurture the restaurant.

I began working at Chef Yutaka Ishinabe’s restaurant in Japan after I came back from France. I was able to see the restaurant overall, not just the cuisine, and learn about how an owner/chef conducts business. He had studied cooking in France but used Japanese ingredients to create his own Yutaka Ishinabe style. I learned from Chef Ishinabe that observing what is going on outside of the kitchen is important in growing a restaurant as well.

Working at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago also influenced me as a chef. Charlie Trotter was a rugged individual. His cooking was fabulous, but cooking for him was like being on an American sports team. He was the captain or coach. The way he gave instructions and pulled the team together was very different from the French way.

When I first arrived in Chicago and entered the kitchen, I was served a meal. As I ate, I observed the kitchen and the manner in which one of the chefs, David Myers, made his way. I noticed how sharp his eyes were. I had no idea who he was. After a year, we became close friends because I felt we had something in common.

Both Chef Ishinabe and Chef Charlie Trotter emphasized teamwork. But there are some big differences in the way Japanese, American, and French chefs communicate with their staff. In Japan, I was expected to know how to do something without any explanation of how to do it. It was easy, because I was working with people of the same nationality. When I went abroad, there were people from different backgrounds, and there were times when I couldn’t get them to understand me. During service there’s a need for more communication, otherwise, standards can’t be maintained. Instructions are given based on the assumption that everyone has a different mentality.

Working in France is very different from Japan. In France, the team changes about once a year. You work together for about six months, followed by a summer break of about one month. Many people change restaurants around that time. The French chefs have impressive resumes. They have studied at many places.

There are no interviews. A single phone call or a recommendation by a chef decides whether you get that next position. To find a position in France, I wrote a lot of letters. I got a lot of information about getting a job there from other Japanese chefs. There was no email in those days––it was all by phone or by mail. I sent form letters in French! If the chef liked what I wrote he or she would contact me.

Once you get into a good restaurant in France, it becomes possible to move to another restaurant. For example, if you work for Chef Joël Robuchon, it means that you have his seal of approval. You work hard to gain the trust and affection of the chef you are working for so that you can be introduced to the next one. That impresses me about the French. When you want to leave a Japanese restaurant, the chef asks you why. But in France, once you give them your best, the chef will introduce you to the next place. You learn and move on. You’re encouraged to learn more. This is so different from Japan.

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