Staff are expected to have skill of observation and aptitude
How many staff are there in your restaurant?
Currently, there are 2 women working part time as cooks and servers. In the past, there was a man who had a career in cuisine but this is counter-style tempura and so there are not so many things to do. For his benefit, I started serving lunch but then he said he did not want to work long hours and so with that, we let it go.
What considerations did you make when hiring those two part-timers?
I observed both of their working styles in other stores and approached them, explaining that I wanted them to teach me the proper way to pour wine and I had them join me here.
I look at how observant they are and their ability to sense. Also, I want to have people I am able to take on outings to eat so that when I say, “I’d like to try something” they will have a sense of the type of cuisine we can prepare and people who have studied about wine and are good at serving wine in a way that does not make the customer wait so that they are easy to work with.
What is needed in the service industry? Also, are there any things you are careful of when communicating with your staff?
Working with each other’s timing also comes into play so if the person does not understand cuisine, they can not provide good service and if they do not understand service, they can not prepare good cuisine.
My staff remind me of my own period in training and I am creating an atmosphere where they can give their opinions freely, without putting pressure on them.
Goals include earning Michelin stars, supporting culinary artists who have ability and restaurant expansion
You’ve branched out to establish your own restaurant which has also earned a Micheline start so it seems you’ve achieved one of your dreams but what are your prospects for the future?
Personally, I want to achieve two stars and have the Osaka customers say to me, “Shouldn’t you be charging more?”
To achieve that, I must give the customers an experience with service and value that goes beyond the cuisine alone. In any restaurant you go to in Osaka, only the food is evaluated so French restaurants can’t take root here. There are no French restaurants that have been in business for 10 years and people may say “that restaurant has delicious food” about some places but I don’t think people say, “wow…they made a luxurious space” about hardly any of them. But if you go to one of the top restaurants in Tokyo you are able to enjoy the service. And so, it seems that for people in Osaka, every day life is just about a “room to eat in”…
I see. There is that kind of difference in Tokyo and Osaka. What do you think about staff development? How long does it take to become a fully-fledged chef?
As with the two part-timers that I spoke of, if I have someone with a strong spirit, I am able to offer staff development and I want to expand. Someone who isn’t yet a career chef is just about right.
To be honest, when it comes to skill, it’s possible to learn the skills to become a full-fledged cook in 1 or 2 years. However, I think it takes at least a decade to stand on your own as a chef and gain depth as a person.
At the shop I went to in Kyoto when I was younger, I was told, “as for technique, even in ten years, it does not change very much but what is important is how that technique is expressed to the customer and how they connect with it. The stock of a restaurant comes from what customers gained other than food. Studying food alone is no good.” A person may have a sense for cooking but they will not succeed on their own just by relying on that without the ability to connect with people like veterans above them in the business and as well as the novices below them, and even with contractors.
Also, I have seen a lot of skilled chefs who could not advance because they did not have the opportunity or didn’t have the funds so I want to give them business know-how like the ability to set prices or add value to the food. And, I want to support chefs in establishing their own business by developing restaurants, not necessarily tempura shops, as I mentioned earlier. One of the reasons I branched out was so that I could support other capable chefs.
(Interviewer: Takashi Ichihara, Writer: Yasuyo Miyazaki, Photographer: Kenichi Hisaoka)