iron Chef Interview Hiroyuki Sakai
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French cuisine, polished by Japanese taste
Customers will not be impressed just by food prepared with the dedication of a chef. It is important for the chef to keep his eyes on the customers at all times and express his own personal cuisine. If he is not deeply aware of the customer’s tastes, it will be difficult to keep going. As cooks are people too, the people making the food must also have some scope for enjoying themselves. The staff should enjoy their jobs, so the customers can enjoy the experience. I hate it when only the customers are enjoying
themselves and only the staff are suffering. So rather than trying to satisfy all of the customers, if 80% of the customers are happy and the people making the food have some scope to enjoy themselves as they provide hospitality, the situation will certainly generate some warmth. The customers won’t be put under any stress or tension. That is why we ask our customers to obey a minimum level of rules as well.
Food is a matter of taste. People have restaurants they personally like and frequent. I’m happy if we can become one of those. We don’t take the attitude of making food to satisfy “gastronomes”, as if we only deal with those diners at the pinnacle of the pyramid. I want the staff to have fun and the customers to be satisfied. Restaurants should be apart from the everyday, while keeping a friendly atmosphere. If the customers have space to enjoy themselves and the staff have time to enjoy themselves, that is enough.
“Ironmen of Cooking” is now popular overseas
It was a matter of how to make it look stylish, pretty and delicious. How to make it look delicious to eat. It was a show, but it was also a serious program, in real time. As you can imagine, I was very tense. The “iron man” to take the challenge was chosen a week in advance. The challenger was known four days in advance. The scariest thing was facing young chefs still in their careers in city restaurants. They do it for real, so there was no way of knowing what they would do. During the contest, there’s no time to wonder what the challenger is doing. The program ended ten years ago, but it still airs around the world. There are also a lot of offers from overseas. These days I still go out to charity events with chefs from around the world. In future, it will also be important for chefs to make a social contribution.