The history of a long-established restaurant, therein lies the extension to my own cooking

Olivier Chaignon

L'Osier Olivier Chaignon

Inaugurated as the chef of the long-established restaurant L’Osier. Achieved what people expected me to do.

Making a mark with your time at Pierre Gagnaire A Tokyo, and now the executive chef at L’Osier. Please tell me about that journey.

Mr. Chaignon :
In 2011 I finished my contract with Gagnaire and intended to return to France. I gathered all my luggage and sent out a thank you mail to all of my colleagues and friends. .

However, the day before I depart for France, I got a call from Jacques Borie.

“I got an email a month ago but I’m sorry I did not reply, are you going back to France? By the way, are you interested in L’Osier? “I’m looking for a chef now and you are a candidate I was wondering if you would be interested. L’Osier’ is under renovation now, so it will be after a couple of years. ‘

At that time I could not answer immediately, but I also consulted my family who had returned to France already and thought about it for a while. The next week I called Mr. Borie to apply and said, “I want to be one of the candidates”.  And here I am today.

What dramatic timing! What do you always keep in your mind since taking the position at L’Osier?

Mr. Chaignon :
L’Osier is a 45-year-old restaurant and has a long history, so I think that it is important to think about where you stand in history. If it is a new restaurant, it is a start from scratch, so you do not have to think about what you carry on your back, but this is a different case. You must open the next page of history.

In other words, you have to protect the legacy while keeping the quality, while preserving what it should be. I am always conscious of this.

It is natural that the cuisine itself will change if the chef changes. However, it’s a given fact  that you keep and maintain the quality of L’Osier. Besides, it is important to add yourself.

What is important to keep in mind about making French cuisine in Japan?

Mr. Chaignon :
The French cuisine I make in Japan is somewhat different from the one I make in France. Here, I try to gear it toward what “Japanese people come to expecting when eating French cuisine”.

For example, now, all over the world, Japanese cuisine is popular, and various chefs use Japanese ingredients. European chefs want to use Japanese ingredients in the sense that it is a novelty. However, I heard that Japanese people go to France and eat real French cuisine, but sometimes are disappointed that it has a Japan taste.

So, I use Japanese ingredients, but I do not use them to make people feel Japanese-style foods. Then make the base a French cuisine without going too far. That’s what I keep in mind. In other words, while taking advantage of the deliciousness of Japanese ingredients, I always try to reproduce the taste of France.

L'Osier cuisine

Photo courtesy: L’Osier

What kind of restaurant would you like L’Osier to be?

Mr. Chaignon :
I want L’Osier to be perfect, not only in the food we produce, but also the other things. From telephone correspondence when customers make reservations to service, how we explain our dishes to customers to work up their appetite, etc. I value every detail and believe that it is important to create the perfect experience from the customer’s arrival to their departure.

This is because I don’t want to come back to a restaurant where the service isn’t good, even if the food is spectacular. The cooking and the service have to be on the same level and must be exceptional.

How do you educate the younger staffs?

Mr. Chaignon :
First of all, I want them to learn the basics of French cuisine well. And carefully watch what the other staff members in the kitchen are doing. I want them to taste the food and come to know the taste.

For example, people are different in terms of how they taste salt, so they have to learn my taste.  These controls are solid and I check the taste of each ingredient to see that it is correct when producing the final product and tell them to fix when it needs change.

Working with a team brings a human-to-human element, so there are times when it is difficult. That being said, it brings a lot of fun as well because there are different perspectives among the group. On the flip side, if everyone is the same and the way they work is the same, it becomes boring. Changes are created by opposing opinions.

Please tell us about your future prospects.

Mr. Chaignon :
I always want to evolve.

There is no end to this job. I am changing myself now just as much as when I arrived here. Even though I have used the same ingredients, the way I use them has changed.

Therefore, rather than doing something special for the future, I will always continue along this path and the future will bring new and better things. Everything always comes in course of continuous.

L'Osier Olivier Chaignon

I’ve noticed that you have almost nothing negative to say during this interview. Is there something that is not so good in your life as a chef?

Mr. Chaignon :
Of course there are times that are painful, hard, dealing with failure and feeling down. I know that there are good things and bad things.

However, as I mentioned earlier, life is continuous, changing and moving. So, even if there is a tough situation, I take that and believe that it turns into a positive.

The secret to keep motivation is to feel joy in working. In my case, the best pleasure is to see satisfied customers and the look of happiness on their faces. I think the result of what I am doing is shown in their expressions. . It is a pleasure to see people feel happy. I want to see this, so I will do my best.

Is there anything you would like to say to the young aspiring chefs of the future?

Mr. Chaignon :
I want to say, love your work. It is important to have enthusiasm and motivation. Being a cook is a tough job, so you may not be able to do it if you dislike it. But that can be said about any job, right?

If you are doing something that you don’t like, or doing it because you have to do it is a sad existence. That’s why you’d better do what you love or are passionate about. It is important to feel a sense of joy.

In addition, always keeping the feeling of wanting to do it. Never quitting is most important. Even if you go through tough times, continuing on is key.  If you keep that motivation, things will always work out for the better and new things will come.

(Interviewer: Osamu Saito, Text: Yoko Aramaki, Photography: Tomonari Shimizu)

L'Osier interior

L'Osier appearance


7-5-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tokyo Metro "Ginza Station" 7 minute walk from Exit B 6
7 minutes on foot from JR Shimbashi station, Tokyo Metro Shimbashi station exit 5
Parking lot available
Lunch 12:00pm ~ 1:30pm (L.O.)
Dinner: 6:00pm ~ 8:30pm (L.O.)
Sunday, Monday, public holidays (irregular), summer season (mid-August), year-end and New Year holidays.