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Passage 53.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in town. France,Paris

Shinichi Sato

Passage 53 Paris 75002

I am from Hokkaido and I studied in Sapporo where I worked at the Grand Hotel.

One day, one of my Chef’s friends invited me to go and work in France in a restaurant in a tiny village near Saint-Cloud. I arrived in late 2000. The language barrier proved very difficult and I only stayed for 4 months before I set off to try my fortune elsewhere.

One day I went to L’Astrance Restaurant. That was where I experienced the biggest upheaval of my life in terms of taste and aesthetics and it revolutionised the entire way I thought about cuisine. So much so that I went and asked the Chef if I could possibly work with him. He agreed and that is where everything took off. I worked there for 2 years and as it was a small team I could see how everybody worked and I had a great deal of personal freedom in what I was able to do.

After 2 years I left to work for a season in Spain, at Mugaritz, a restaurant which was then nicknamed ‘the Spanish Astrance’. When I returned from Spain in 2005, I was back to where I had started, but at least I knew that what I wanted was to work in France.

I had known the Desnoyer family from L’Astrance. When Guillaume called me to ask me to be the chef at Passage 53, I knew that I would have top-quality ingredients and that if I worked hard I could start to do things my way. The Desnoyer family applied for a visa for me, and I decided to take the plunge.

What was your most moving culinary experience?
A dinner at L’Astrance where each new dish was even more stunning than the last! The menu was incredibly intricate and inventive… It left me with lasting memories.

What was the most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
When the staff from Passage 53 worked for 2 days in Los Angeles, at Melisse Restaurant. The 2 sets of staff were mixed up in the kitchens. There was the staff from Passage 53 with large numbers of cooks from Japan, and the staff from Melisse where the chef is American and there are lots of Mexican cooks… The staff from Passage 53 did not speak very good English so they had to use sign language for several days!

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Sunday cooks should first take their time and buy top-quality ingredients, such as fine seasonal root vegetables from Joel Thiebault and excellent meat from Hugo Desnoyer. A delicious and easy seasonal dish is roast loin of Dordogne pork, gravy from the cooking juices and a parsnip purée.