Yohan Da Costa, young French Executive chef in Japan, who started his chef career at age of 14 in Michelin star restaurant.

 

You are a young French Executive Chef working in Japan today. Even much younger; you started your career at age of just 14 years in a Michelin star restaurant. Please tell us more about this start into your chef career.

The « Restaurant Pierre « was my really first step in a restaurant. That’s my first reference. The Chef owner Christian Gaulin teach me all the basics. Without him I’am not sure if I would be where I’am now. We still keep in touch every month.

 

Which culinary school did you visit?

I was studying at CIFA of Mercurey.

 

As cuisinier you worked for the Hotel du Castellet Relais&Châteaux , 2* Guide Michelin restaurant. What was your greatest learning out of this time?

The sense of detail and rigour.

 

 

As Chef de partie saisonnier you kept working for another Relais&Châteaux House, the Imperial Garoupe in Cap d’Antibes. Based your experience, what makes a Relais&Châteaux so special to work for as a chef?

Relais and Chateaux always been a reference for me. And its one of the finest group about Hotel and restaurant.

 

With this great back up and Know How on French Cuisne; you left France and started to work as Chef de Cuisne at the C’est Bon in Australia. In what sense was the French kitchen in Australia different?

That was my first challenge as Chef de cuisine and it was a really great opportunity. In the kitchen it wasn’t so different for me because almost all the staff was french. But the working time and the way to work is different than France.

 

In 2014 you moved as Chef de Cuisne to Hokkaido Japan. What was the reason to go to Japan?

I always wanted to go in Japan because of the food and the culture. Someone contact me for a job in Niseko in Hokkaido. so I just went for it.

 

 

The Japanese food culture is amazing in all aspects. What was your first impression?

Japanese food is really amazing. In Hokkaido the speciality is fish and seafood, my first dinner was in sushi restaurant and that was just amazing.

 

Japanese kitchen is famous to his simplicity. The French kitchen is often the opposite. In what sense are both similar?

Japanese kitchen looks simple but it can be really difficult too, especially to get well balanced taste.

 

Japanese/ French Fusion Cuisine is phantastic (provides you can implement it). Are you work in this direction as well?

I’m 100% working in this direction. I like to put a Japanese twist in my cuisine. It could be a simple ingredient or a technique.

 

High quality ingrediencies are essential for Japanese kitchen. What does impress you most in Japan at the food supply/ cooperation with the producers?

Yes it is. In Hokkaido I am really impressed by the quality of the fish and seafood, there is also beautiful vegetable and amazing Wagyu beef.

 

You worked as Executive Chef for the restaurant Louise in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. What was your culinary set up there?

When I arrived at Louise I wanted to make something new. So I tried to « forget » what I learned before and keep only the basics to make my really own cuisine. I had only one degustation menu who changed frequently.

 

What is your most favourite Japanese spice an ingrediencies?

I love Japanese sansho. But what i really love in japan thats all the different kind of herbs we can work with. That’s amazing.

 

What are some sorts of fish you became familiar in Japan; which you did not know before?

There is few fish I didn’t know before and I love to work with them now:

  • Ainame
  • Kinmedai
  • Soy
  • Aji

 

How would you describe your culinary line today?

It’s a seasonal cuisine with good and fresh ingredients (I guess there is no good cuisine without good ingredients) and respect of environment. French cuisine twist with Japanese ingredient and technique.

 

Can you share some of your latest/ special dishes/ recipes?

There is an Amuse bouche who become popular:

  • Botan Ebi (Japanese shrimp )tartar season with sansho rolled in daikon marinated in grapefruits marinade
  • Broccoli purée with olive oil
  • Salad of broccoli foot, chive, grapefruits and japanese herbs

 

 

Is there any place in the world you would like to work as chef?

I really fall in love of Japan but when I was younger my dream was to work in New York.

 

With your experiences, have you ever thought about to open (where ever in the world) a small restaurant specialized in Japanese/ French in the in the near future?

I am thinking about to open my own restaurant.

 

If you are not at the restaurant; what are your favourite Japanese outside dishes?

I love going soba restaurant and eating soba with tempura.

 

Yohan Da Costa thank you very much.