New frontiers in Kyoto cuisine and designs to open in Paris and obtain Michelin stars
What are your future dreams for Kyoto cuisine as a whole and for yourself?
I may be repeating myself, but going fully experimental will not do with Kyoto cuisine, so you must rely on the basis of tradition to deploy originality. I want to expand the culinary repertoire of Kyoto cuisine in this way. I’d like for the next generation to then pick up from where I leave off.
I want to see those who are training with me today succeed in their own way. That’s true of all of them — both the ones in a position to go solo and those not yet ready. To that end, I want to create the system I talked about earlier. If we can achieve that, then my last shop will be an okonomiyaki savory pancake shop with my wife. She has borne a lot of grief living with me, so I want to be able to say, “Hey, let’s close the pancake shop today and go for a drive.” I’d like to enjoy that kind of life.
At the same time, I also want to open in Paris. I want to open a shop there and get a Michelin star.
Paris is like Kyoto. Last year, I collaborated with Thierry Marx of Sur Mesure at the Mandarin Oriental, and I went to Paris four times. I’ve been going there for seventeen years running. When I went for the third time, I really felt how it resembled Kyoto in that they don’t open up to non-Parisians at first. There are gates in front of apartment complexes — not unlike the walls you see in front of better homes in Kyoto. Paris is also a culinary capital, and French cuisine and Kyoto cuisine have their traditions. And yet, there are few authentic Japanese restaurants in Paris, so I feel we need to convey Kyoto culture there.
I have a lot of offers from places like Singapore and China to fund shops there, and I went to visit New York. But my feeling is that it has to be Paris. I have no intention of trying to turn a profit. I just want to go head-to-head with the historic capital. I have lots of friends there, and they would support me. I don’t have anyone to send to Paris, though, so I’m thinking I would close Gion Sasaki and go myself.
（Interviewer: Osamu Saito, Writer: Yasuyo Miyazaki, Photographer: Kengo Osaka）