Not having “I am not suited” as an excuse, but believing the path I decided and move on.

PONTE VECCHIO
Daisuke Yamane

PONTE VECCHIO Daisuke Yamane

Producing systems that staff with different ideas can keep their motivations and work.

You are not only working on cooking, but also developing tools and publishing books. You are energetically producing various things. Where does that energy come from?

Mr. Yamane:
I might have grown in a good era. I was not in a rich family when I was a child.

But the period of high economic growth came and international exposition was held in Osaka. I was a 3rd or 4th grader but I was shocked. People who are white and black and all kinds which I have seen only on TV were coming. It was an exposition that made us imagine the future with things such as moving walk and cars, and everyone at school was talking about the exposition every day.

One day Apolo-11 landed on the moon for the first time and at least 5 kids in a class were motivated to become astronauts. By the time we became adults, cars must fly in the air! That kind of future was right there. The economy was growing every year and thought Japanese people are becoming richer and richer. No one thought of failing when doing business in the future. It was an era full of energy.

Now it is opposite in a way. In this situation, many restaurants are struggling on how to train young people who aim to be chefs to become independent and established. How about “PONTE VECCHIO”, which has produced various chefs?

Mr. Yamane:
This is very difficult. Now everyone has a strong desire for independence so there are many people who leave at the end. Leaving is something we can’t help and I want to cheer them up as a daddy even though they leave. 100 ex-trainees got together for my 30th anniversary and it was something grateful.

But honestly speaking, I don’t want important staff members that I have now to quit. You say I produce chefs, but it is scary when people leave me. But I have to welcome their independence and let them do what they want to do.

But I think it is important to settle a system that people can choose not only their independence but also other ways that fit their types by many business.

We have the main branch in a position of high social standing, a big sized restaurant like one in Nishi Umeda, and an affordable and casual Italian called, “ECHI PONTE VECCHIO”, located in Lucua…, depending on the genre of the restaurants, we can change the types of people who work. There must be a restaurant mainly run by part-time staff.

What I am planning now is called, “D Men” (provisional name), which is a ramen restaurant. It is almost finished from a machine that makes soup to an equipment that cools down and store it. 

Another one is called, “D stake” (provisional name). We are developing a device called, “D cutter”, just for that restaurant, which cuts meat along the texture so customers can enjoy soft and tender meat. I would like to make a restaurant which instead of using time and vitality, we use ideas on tools and systems so we can provide very delicious food and still process is simple.

It would be great if we can make various business like that.

You are challenging much business, thinking both needs of the customers of this era and training people. By the way, what does “D” stand for?

Mr. Yamane:
It is “D” of “Daisuke”.

Anyways, until now we were fine with the main branch only, but the market is changing. There are more people who want to eat not only at the large places, but also eat at the restaurants with a small size, and also a way of thinking towards money spent on dining is changing. The main branch does not have any point such as contents of food or equipment that are any less than other restaurants, but it is becoming an era which is difficult with only that. It is becoming more diverse.

This main branch is a center of myself and the place to brush up skills of staff, motivate them, and develop food for other restaurants, so we need here. But we have to respond multiangular needs.

So by utilizing the knowledge we have gained until now, we create roaster that anyone can roast juicy meat and cutter that anyone can make tender meat.

I am opening other restaurants thinking we need restaurants that everyone can use the tools easily and still cook food at high quality and work with smiles and fun.

It is just tough for ordinal part-time staff without a will if I tell, “Work hard to master cooking.”. Of course there are types of staff who think it is no good to cook with a smile while cooking, so I want to prepare paths depending on various types.

In the situation that the number of people who have the craftsmanship of the old times is decreasing, you are creating restaurants and places that young people can easily continue by your own ideas.

Mr. Yamane:
I had been stuck to the format of Italian or ristorante very much until a little while ago. But when I took that off, many ideas comes one after another every day. Now it is very fun.

“D Men” started when I was influenced by my friend who succeeded with his ramen restaurant. I did not want to be defeated, so I thought of making soup with our theory of Italian. I create from combining elements of deliciousness.

I thought that if we could think of something like ordinary ramen restaurants cannot come up with such as making soup by softening bones by pressurizing.

But the most difficult part is who is going to do it.

Indeed people who aim to be a chef of Italian of PONTE VECCHIO might not want to cook ramen.

Mr. Yamane:
Exactly. So what I am thinking now is to create a soup workshop.The staff of each restaurant run the job at that workshop by rotation.Preparing soup is not something that they do not want to do.They make soup every day. For the ramen I hire different staff.

If they can also challenge in various ways, they might be able to continue working without getting bored.

Mr. Yamane:
Yes. It is fun. NOw we are making frozen pot baked pizza for outside sales.

We make Pizza producing team by having one staff from each restaurant.We have 2 to 3 days a week to bake all at once. By doing so it becomes profitable totally and it is also good for staff since it works as recreation as it is only once a month. If they make pizza every day in that lab, they might hate it and quit along the way, but this way good effects are created.

After your 30th anniversary, I think we can say it is completed version as a restaurant in a way. But you are still proactively working on the new challenges.

PONTE VECCHIO Daisuke Yamane

Not having “I am not suited” as an excuse, but it is important to believe the path and move on.

Is there any type that you want to hire?

Mr. Yamane:
For the main branch, I think it is good that young, creative, and skilled people who really want to do cooking get together and do what they want to do. Honestly, I think it does not have to be me. Well, I don’t want to be defeated though. But perhaps young people know more what the era wants than I do.

Of course, when it comes to cooking skills, I think my food is the most delicious. But there is food with enormous amounts of plates, or photogenic food are accepted. On the other hand, there are food that lacks respect or affections towards food materials, wondering why they use this luxury ingredients like this.

To me I happen to be critical, but still they are full of reservations for next 3 to 4 months. This happened.  So it is not like I understand the whole thing.So I want the young ones to flourish.I want this place to be where they can compete.Our kitchen system is still the most advanced in size almost the same as the main floor and it has tools that I invented. It would be great if they brush up their skills there and propose food and service that they want to do.

When they gain fame, I let them handle the new restaurants.So for young people I would like them to put on efforts aiming for the main branch.

On the other hand, for the restaurant like, “D Stake”, I want those, who have done all they wanted to do, who are around their 40s and 50s, who want to serve food at the certain quality line by their pace, to be involved. I want experienced staff who can do something that others cannot definitely do systematically while keeping the quality to help.There are places for young ones and experienced ones to flourish.

By the way, do you have any advice for young people who are aiming to be chefs upon working in the restaurant industry?

Mr. Yamane:
If you enter a big organization of a general company, it is difficult to express yourself, so restaurants industry is a good job for people with a mind of independence thinking, “I want to do what I want to do.”

But this field is going to be difficult from now. Price competition gets tougher, the number of customers decreases, working hours, and shortage of workers…. It is okay to be independent and there are many chances.

Important thing is to keep thinking how to continue. For example, for such restaurants that are run by 3 people, all members quit in 3 to 4 months. The reason why our restaurant has no one leaving for 17 to 18 years is that it has size like this, developing various restaurants,,, having an organization as a company. Because it works with an organization, there is stability of business base, easiness of drawing career path, stable life. People can all continue because they feel safe.

People say that I am “harsh to staff” “scary”. Since it is a big organization, we can communicate each other with moderated distance with some tense atmosphere instead of being too close. Growth needs a feeling of tension. But if we do the same thing with a group of 3 including me, for example, I and 2 staff… they do not show up from tomorrow. 

Single restaurants are like that indeed.

Mr. Yamane:
Yes. If you think of opening a restaurant of about 10 seats, it seems easy to run thinking about buying, cooking, and serving in that size. But it is difficult in a restaurant of a few staff to let them keep motivated for 10, 20 years. In that situation it is good to judge whether the person has a determination even by himself.

If not, it is also a good choice to put on an effort in a restaurant with a certain size like ours. Of course it does not mean to have him or her in an easy environment.

They should face their work with mindsets of “independence within the company”.

But I think it is not good being, “Not being taught” by leaning too much on the organization. So I always tell my staff, “learn on your own.”, and “If you have something that you want to do, propose and do it.”.

For us if we make a big profit in our restaurants, we are ready to share that with staff, but I cannot give a big reward to whom has a sense of being hired and helping with a thought of, “I will move to another restaurant after several years.” or, “just staying here until my independence.”.

Either way once you make a decision, you should have a determination and do it off instead of saying something like, is this really suited for me? I might not be suited for this.

You cannot do it if you are dumb, but you cannot do it unless you become dumb. I can only do this. You do it by believing and telling yourself that for this reason I have some kind of gifted talent on this field.

Perhaps it is the same for any job.

Mr. Yamane:
Yeah, right! Everyone sways too much. They doubt quick.

But there is nothing else but to believe. I think do not say ordinal thing like, “There might be some other things.”. Do I want to say that I, Daisuke Yamane, could not do anything else?

Everyone must be able to do something else besides cooking. Absolutely. If you are a creator, you can create other things instead of only one genre. There is no one who “cannot do anything but this.”.  We can do many things.

I do designing but I might be in third-rate to a real designer. But people who have succeeded on something have ideas of creating on the bottom, and the people who have it can do other things. It is not only about me. From there we pick one saying, “I will do this.” , and have determination, continue, put on efforts, and do it until we master so it becomes something.

It is not good to have “suited” “not suited” as an excuse.

Mr. Yamane:
There is no “suited”.

For example, there is a person who is not good at talking in front of people by getting attention. But ones who easily say, “I cannot talk like this.” lack efforts.

If the voice is soft, speak louder, I think.

When I really think and talk a lot to a person, there is a person who speaks only one word… it makes me want to say how much is the energy that you are using comparing to me? I think that do not end up saying you are not talkative.

It is not like that in this world.

Moreover if you think about independence, it takes skills to talk with bankers and negotiate and before that you need communication skills to attract customers.

By doing so people come to see your face. You also need to talk a lot with producers and make good relationships. If you are trying to make your living, you must strive hard, I strongly think so.

PONTE VECCHIO Daisuke Yamane

PONTE VECCHIO

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+81-6-6229-7770
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Osaka Shoken Torihikijo Bld. 1-8-16 1st floor Kitahama Chuo-ku Osaka-shi Osaka
1 minute by walk from Kitahama station of
Sakaisuji line of Subway and Keihan line
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Lunch 11:00〜14:00(L.E.)
Dinner 18:00-21:00(L.E.)
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