I want to become someone who will make farmers happy – make them proud that this chef used their vegetables.
By combining comfortable service with French cuisine that had a sense of originality, using such food materials as Yamato futonegi (thick green onion) , Yamato mana (a type of bok choy), Yamato pork, and amago (a river fish in the salmon family), the number of customers increased little by little.
In the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2017, published in December of 2016, it earned one star.
He also actively seeks new challenges, collaborating on events in Tokinomori, such as an exhibition by five creators called “Aji no Katachi-ten” (“The Shape of Flavors”) and a panel by Nara-born director Naomi Kawase, celebrating the release of her film, serving a course meal.
It is a great feeling to earn a star within a year of opening.
I am relieved a little to have such an achievement, but I cannot say that I can fully share the appeals of Nara through my food just yet. Improving service is one of our challenges and we have just hired more staff members. And the management of Ciel et Sol is done through a joint venture with Mr. Ishimura as a business consignment from the Nara Prefectural Office, but starting this year planning of events in the building and management were all left to us.
I want to boost the entire Tokimnomori project by workng with Mr. Ishimura and people from the Prefectual Office.
What are your thoughts about the future?
Telling the appeal of different regions through cuisine cannot be done in one day, so I want to build the base of Ciel et Sol by taking my time at first. On the other hand, I would like to do a job that connects me to revitalization of Tochigi.
Tochigi has lot of nature and resources for tourism besides Nikko and Chuzenji Lake.
For example, there is the Otani Landscape Park located outside of the city of Utsunomiya.
The stone wall cut from Otani stones is impressive, and the rivers around there are beautiful, which makes me go crazy thinking about my dream, like, “It would be interesting If I open a restaurant here!”
If that dream comes true, though, it’s not something that one person can do alone, from a geographical or financial point of view; it requires support from the government.
I would like you to make it true. For such a collaboration, your experience at Ciel et Sol would be helpful.
Government requires fairness and transparency, so there are many processes to establish such a project, and they are different from processes for private business. But I realized that we can do something at a scale that was hard to do through private business, if we take right procedures, act with passion, and have the support of the staff.
Also I realize the potential of Tochigi ingredients by working in Tokyo.
If restaurants in Tokyo actively choose good food materials from all around Japan, it would help raise the name value of those producing centers, which would then lead to regional vitalization. I think I should brush up those skills more and become the one to contribute to the branding of farmers; I want them to say with pride, “That chef used my vegetables.”
(Interview: Osamu Saito Writer: Ayako Izumi Photographer: Tomoyasu Osakabe)