Working and learning more than anyone. Challenge of a Japanese woman who works as a chef pâtissier at a distinguished restaurant in Paris

Kimiko Kinoshita

Taillevent Kimiko Kinoshita

Training hard while learning the language.

You came to Paris to enter a language school, but did you work while you were in school?

Ms. Kinoshita:
Back then, I had never worked at a pastry boutique, so I worked making pastries at a boutique for six months while learning French.

I was not allowed to work at the same place for more than 6 months due to my student visa, so I was thinking about what to do next. My language school introduced a chef from Les 110 de Taillevent (hereby 110).

He was working as a chef at a small bistro called, “Meeting”, so I started working there.

It was very difficult to get a working visa then. After a month of working there, they asked me, “By the way, don’t you want a visa?”, they then applied for a working visa for me. I was lucky.

I worked from 8am until 3pm, went to language school, and then I returned to the restaurant from 7pm until late at night. That chef moved to “110”, and invited me to work as a chef patissier, so that means I had worked with the same person for a total of 8 years.

I think it is a man’s society, so were you okay?

Ms. Kinoshita:
It was not like I encountered any physical abuse or saw plates flying, but it was a tough time. I was raised in a family with 2 older brothers, so I was fine.

Basically, my job does not bother me. I have never had another job.
I think it is normal to work from early in the morning until late at night, so
there is no problem.

I often hear in France that everyone bullies new people, and that they treat Japanese in a bad way?

Ms. Kinoshita:
When I started in Bordeaux, I did not understand the language but I could understand that they were blaming me. So instead of talking, I went up and fought for myself. Since then, it has been okay. My way is to let them know that I am uncontrollable when I am mad. I was saying, “Shut up.” in Japanese.

Was there anyone who did not like that a Japanese worked harder than the French?

Ms. Kinoshita:
It was not like racism, but of course, I was made fun of and still am.
There are people who say, “I don’t understand what you are saying.” .
Then I respond, “I did not understand at all, but can you talk the way I understand?”

At last, if you have ability, they can recognize it, right?

Ms. Kinoshita:
No, I don’t think I have ability. I am doing what I have to do, and plus, I was lucky. I entered “Joël Robuchon” and “Taillevent” both by referral. It is such an honor to be welcomed by a chef as a chef pâtissier.

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Is it more important that you wanted to do it or that you wanted to work at a three star restaurant?

It seems that there are many Japanese who work at different places for a year to learn, but Ms. Kinoshita, you have remained at the same place for a long time.

Ms. Kinoshita:
“Meeting”, the place I worked at first in Paris, sponsored my visa and due to that, I worked there for two years. But I only worked at “Robuchon” for one year.
I worked at “110” for four years, but I was a chef there so I should not quit after working there for a long period. I happen to be like that.

While you worked at “110”, did you think about returning to a ’star’ restaurant?

Ms. Kinoshita:
I was getting older and I thought there was a capacity that I can do.
I decided to do whatever I could do with what I was given. “Pre catelan” (Obtained 3 stars from Michelin) offered me a position, but the chef of “110” asked me not to leave.
It is not whether I wanted to work at a three star place. It was more important whether I wanted to do it or not. I cold go learn at “Pre catelan” on my days off.

The bistro chef (No2 chef) at “Robuchon”, brasserie chef at “110”, and a chef pâtissier at “Taillevent”.
What a wonderful career!

Ms. Kinoshita:
I am also surprised. But at the end of the day, I think I was lucky.

The move to “Taillevent” was only because the chef of “110” recommended me to the owner, when he came to “110” one day.
When I was working at “Meeting”, I was given a chance to study at a cake shop next to ours on my days off. After I became a chef at “110” I studied about baking.
I was a pâtissier but I had never made croissant dough and wanted to be able to make Viennoiserie (sweet bread). For six months, twice a week, I studied from 5am at the bakery and worked at my restaurant at 8am, and on one of my days off I studied from 5am. I now think it was tough, but the chef and the owner knew that I always worked hard.

Besides that I also studied weekends at “Les Crayeres” (a Michelin two star restaurant).

I run the restaurant as a chef, and learn what I have not been able to in my free time. It is natural for me as I do not have a great imagination.

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