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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.
It was my friend and fellow chef Yosuke, who used to work for Joël Robuchon, who introduced me to Sologne caviar. I was immediately won over by the quality of its grains, texture, and long finish. A few years ago, I contacted Maison Nordique and began buying and using their caviar. I like it most when it’s combined with simple ingredients. That’s the best way to enjoy it, in its natural state, with roasted potatoes or toast. For the restaurant I recently developed a recipe in which I place a mound of caviar on a thin, crispy biscuit and top it with tender, slightly warm potato gnocchi. Then I add a light mascarpone and bits of hazelnut. The result is a subtle interplay of textures and temperatures, with the warm gnocchi bringing out the cool freshness of the caviar.