Like many of the chef/judges on Netflix’s The Final Table, Yoshihiro Narisawa has made a name for himself by developing a highly personal style of cuisine informed by both his heritage and experiences working in some of the greatest kitchens around the world. Here’s everything you need to know about this visionary Japanese chef.
Who Is Yoshihiro Narisawa?
With three decades of fine dining experience under his belt, Yoshihiro Narisawa is one of Japan’s most revered chefs. His Tokyo restaurant, Narisawa, currently holds two Michelin stars and is listed at number 22 on the World’s 50 Best restaurants list.
What was his journey through the culinary world like?
As a young chef, Yoshihiro Narisawa traveled to Europe to work for fine dining legends Frédy Girardet, Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon, and Ezio Santin. After nine years of working his way through the Michelin-starred restaurants of Europe, Narisawa returned to Japan in 1996 to open La Napoule, a restaurant in Odawara that offered Japanese cuisine influenced by his travels abroad. The chef moved his restaurant to Tokyo seven years later and renamed it Les Créations de Narisawa, and then, simply, Narisawa. Although the chef has talked about opening another project someday, his Tokyo fine dining destination remains his only restaurant.
What is Narisawa’s food like?
Narisawa calls the food that he serves at his eponymous restaurant “innovative satoyama cuisine,” a term that references the Japanese word for the forest between the farmlands and the mountains. “Satoyama is about people cultivating ingredients from the land,” Narisawa told Vogue two years ago. “We use the leaves, herbs, flowers, and wild vegetables that grow in the forest. There is no waste. We only take what we need.” With his nature-inspired compositions, Narisawa also aims to connect diners to the land where the ingredients came from. One of his 15-course tasting menus might include sea snake with taro, braised wagyu beef rump, and a vegetable creation called “soil soup.”
“My recipes represent what is going on in Japanese society right now, the social and environmental issues we face, because it’s all linked,” the chef told Eater last year. “They are an interpretation, a picture of this current moment. Of course my recipes are influenced by issues such as global warming, which made some of the ingredients rarer, or by the importance of thinking about how the next generations will cook, since some of our traditions are getting lost.”