If you repeat the same thing again and again, you get the same result. If you want a different outcome, you need to try something different.

Kei Kojima


I stepped into the food industry with a light heart. However, my feelings towards work changed when I was thinking about quitting.

You started your career in the food industry after you graduated from high school. What made you decide to pursue such a career?

Mr. Kojima :
When I was in high school, there was nothing I wanted to do because I was not interested in anything. When I was in my last year of high school, I went to a cram school for university entrance exams and attended summer school far away. However, I suddenly decided not to go on to college because I thought, “Why do I have to study even though I hate it?” One day I bought a magazine and there was a feature about a Japanese chef who had just come back from France. I was very fascinated with his story and started thinking about becoming a chef.

Where did you work after you decided to pursue a path in the food industry?

Mr. Kojima :
The first restaurant I worked at was a teppanyaki restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo. This restaurant had eight branches overseas, including a shop in Paris. Therefore I thought I might be able to go to France if I worked here. There were people from the main branch there sometimes and they were interested in me, maybe because I was 18 and very young so I stood out. There was a rule that you wouldn’t be recommended to go to a foreign branch until you turned 20, but I was told that they would recommend me soon. However, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to learn anything other than teppan cuisine so I decided to quit after a year and changed jobs to an Italian restaurant.

What kind of Italian restaurant was it?

Mr. Kojima :
This Italian restaurant didn’t serve very authentic dishes but they gave me opportunities to try them if I was interested. It was a good restaurant. The head chef was a very interesting person. He suddenly disappeared once, and we found out later that he was in Italy for apprenticeships and stayed there for a year. The owner of the restaurant was such an understanding person who permitted him to do such things. However, I was thinking about stepping out of the food industry after the fist two years because I thought it was very boring. The hours were too long and my seniors were annoying.

Why did your feelings change?

Mr. Kojima :
I had a chance to meet a chef who had just come back from Italy. I heard a lot of stories about his experiences overseas, and my feelings started changing. Another thing is that I read the seventh volume of “Gendai France Ryori (Modern French Cuisine),” which was published as an additional volume of “Senmonryori (A Professional Cuisine)”  (※2)
This is a very revolutionary magazine and they introduced photos of the kitchens, tables and dishes of famous restaurants in France. Some chef interviews in the magazine allowed me to see their mindset or philosophy and even their recipes. I was shocked to see that and thought they were so cool. After that, my feelings completely changed and I started becoming more interested in cooking.

A cooking magazine published by Shibata Bookstore, which specializes in books for professionals. It was first published in 1966.


Do you think a person’s main interest can change even as they get older?

Mr. Kojima :
Well, opportunity is everything. If there is an opportunity, you can change anytime.
I started having an interest in working overseas and thinking about going to France. I was already fascinated with going abroad when I was a kid. I saw the words, “MADE IN FRANCE” on a pencil sharpener and thought it was so cool. Also, my father used to work in a foreign country and there were some English picture books at home. I probably had some kind of nostalgia for the alphabet. After I started working, I had a lot of opportunities to see things from France or Italy because of my job, so I thought I would like to go there someday.

I heard you moved to France when you were 24. How did you get such an opportunity?

Mr. Kojima :
Someone who had a connection in France made a path for me. To be honest with you, I wanted to go to Italy, not France. I used to go to a language school to study Italian when the restaurant was closed. However, he said he would be able to guide me to move to France so I decided to go to France because I thought it was very close to Italy. I bought a French language book a week before leaving called “ABCs of French Language” or something like that, and thought I would be able to handle it, somehow.




10th Floor Chanel Ginza Building 3-5-3 Ginza, Chuou-ku, Tokyo
3-min walk from Exit A13 of Ginza Station on the Tokyo Metro

3-min walk from Exit 5 of Ginza Ichome Station on the Tokyo Metro

5-min walk from JR Yuraku-cho Station
Hours Lunch 11:30-16:00 (last order at 14:00)

Dinner 18:00-23:30 (last order at 20:30) 

Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, summer vacation, and New Year’s holidays