I want to make this field that people think it was a good choice by spending rest of my life as a chef.
You mentioned about independence, but is there any particular characteristics of people who worked with you and succeed after their independence?
Thinking of their faces, they all had some gifted talent when they were with me.
I think they are cooking skills, creativities, and also what they had in common was they are cooking lover and crazy about cooking. These types of people have good sense and put on efforts.
When it comes to talent, those who only do what they are told and only copy my ideas do not go well. If you copy what you learn here, you can make food at a certain quality and you can create a place if you have money. But when I ask those people upon their independence, “What kind of business do you want to do specifically?” and “To whom?”, they cannot come up with ideas.
It is to think about whether you have food that you want to cook and what do you want to serve your customers and make them happy. When I tell to cook new food, there is none who can do it. Though they can copy someone, it is not easy to cook something completely original. So it is important to have a mindset to keep brushing up while seeking a new sense.
And in order to succeed on independence is not to want a good result soon.
For example, it is okay to start with a restaurant only with one table. It is okay as long as you make overwhelming achievement.
Customers come if you have talent and energy. If full reservation continues, you would have more power to procure money and will have more capital. You can go to the next step with the hand full of trust.
Even in my case, I moved this main branch in Kitahama 2 times and added a floor so 3rd restaurant. Besides that, I opened about 9 restaurants and there are some that I closed. It is impossible to make an ideal restaurant with ideal size from the beginning.
You failed many times. It is similar to building houses. There are things you notice for the first time after experiencing few restaurants.
As you gain experience amount of money you receive and can use changes.
Even in my case, I spent a lot of money as I moved up to the next step. I don’t know how many billions of yen I have invested. I failed a lot, too. So I am not earning so much or do not live that rich personally at all. It is quite simple.
Because of that I think I have to earn more from now. I have more staff who have worked with me for 17 to 18 years, and I want to think about their salary and position that they deserve. I am thinking about plans for the next business, too.
There are things that I can do after working hard with PONTE VECCHIO for 30 years, and I feel like it is okay to do anything. By succeeding it I want to show the path to move to whom aim for the field of cooking from now.
Don’t you think so? It is not good when a person puts on a lot of effort to aim for an Italian or French restaurant but cannot finish his or her life as a chef at the end is happy. If this is a job to get lost when you get old, no one wants to come to this field, right?
There are many things to change in order to be chosen as a job.
It is necessary to think about people who work. Lately instead of spending money on the place or service, the trend is to serve food at affordable price, but I think it is unbelievably dumping. I want to say what that is for.
At the beginning comparing to Europe price of Japanese restaurants are very cheap. If you are in Japan, even ones that are doing with considerate price looks expensive. But labor cost in Japan is not low.
In the situation that is hard to produce profit, how can we make an environment that satisfies people who work? It affects somewhere. That is connected to a problem of shortage of labors in this field and as a result becomes a reason this field does not develop.
We have to change at some point. We have to establish the proper standard that people understand and become happy at the right price, or this field is going down.
I hear the similar opinion from various owners of the restaurant industry.
Without that it is difficult to keep labors and there is no development as the field.
I think we should “put on efforts on making food delicious.” instead of serving cheaply and make it a trend.
The original competition was on which restaurant serves food that is the most delicious and valuable, but it ends up with, “it is okay if it is cheap.”. Restaurants that are around with low price are not like using good meat or grilling technique is not that good.
But since you are a chef, I want to say we should use our energy on how to grill, how to buy, how to prepare, that makes it delicious. They attract customers by only popularity from cheap price, and I don’t want that.
To me I think the power to make it cheaper and make it more delicious are the same as energy, so that way I want to put on effort on making it delicious.
“D Stake” that I am planning now is aiming that point. I want to put on ideas on food more, and I produce tender, delicious, but still affordable and valuable. And it produces a profit.
I want to spend the rest of my life on working on it and make chances to change this field. Or I cannot end my life as a chef.
(Interview: Osamu Saito Writer: Tomoko Tanaka Photographer: Kengo Ohsaka)
photo by PONTE VECCHIO