In Dialog With Chef Kei Kobayashi

On the age of fifteen, Japanese-born Key Kobayashi determined to pursue a profession in French gastronomy. After years of laborious work and coaching underneath a few of the most famed and influential names in French delicacies (together with Gilles Goujon and Alain Ducasse), Chef Kei is now a recognised title in his personal proper – not solely does he run the profitable Restaurant KEI in Paris, however he additionally grew to become the primary Asian chef to win three stars within the Michelin Information France 2020.

Learn our interview with him to study extra about his profession, Michelin myths and his latest collaboration with Johnnie Walker to create the Blue Label Elusive Umami.

Your dad and mom are each cooks. Was it at all times thought that you’d additionally observe this path?

No, in no way. I used to be by no means pressured into selecting this profession; I simply fell in love with it alone.

You determined that French delicacies was your calling at a younger age. What appealed to you in French delicacies?

Truthfully, it was the chef’s whites!! I watched a documentary about Alain Chapel (who was additionally awarded 3 Michelin stars in his restaurant) and was impressed by the category and intelligence of this chef. He was very inspiring.

Please describe a typical day for you – if such a factor exists.

I am going to the restaurant at 10 a.m. each morning and I’ve conferences with suppliers or with my restaurant workforce. I’ve a lightweight lunch at 11:30 then I’m within the kitchen checking the seasonings of the sauces for lunch service. I prefer to thank every buyer in particular person after lunch service then it’s extra conferences till 5 p.m., adopted by downtime earlier than the dinner service. I prefer to have dinner with my workforce and it’s an opportunity to do our pre-service briefing. I shut the restaurant myself after the final buyer leaves round 00:30.

What a part of your job do you get pleasure from essentially the most and the least?

Indisputably, I really like the inventive facet of my work.

I wouldn’t say it’s my least favorite a part of my job, however the hardest a part of the job is attempting to please everybody who involves Restaurant KEI. Some friends are coming for the primary time, and others are regulars so the problem then is to make sure that the meals and the general expertise meet their expectations each time.

And what has been your biggest skilled achievement so far?

My biggest success is Restaurant KEI and all the pieces that entails! I’m grateful for my dedicated staff who’ve been at my aspect for a number of years, the loyal collaborations with my suppliers and naturally, my clients who admire my delicacies.

Restaurant KEI, your restaurant in Paris, has obtained three Michelin stars. How are you going to keep your stage of excellence and proceed to innovate in such a aggressive and demanding sector?

Michelin stars are awarded for the work you’ve executed within the earlier 12 months, so for me it’s not about defending and sustaining the star, reasonably it’s about ranging from scratch – yearly I need to throw myself into it and seize the chance to be worthy of the celebrities.

Inform us extra about what excited you most about working with Johnnie Walker.

The chance to create a blended whisky was extraordinarily thrilling: a mix allowed us to experiment with many alternative complementary flavours. It was a pleasure to have the belief and freedom to work with Emma (Walker) to search out the perfect mix. Johnnie Walker Blue Label is understood for its marine aromas and its smoky notes. With Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami we needed to carry the identical smoky notes with the addition of what I might name “mountain aromas”. This balanced mix has refined notes of caramel, apple, peach, and purple fruits with a depth that lingers, every sip offering a novel tasting expertise.

Is whisky a tough spirit to work with, particularly together with your cooking fashion?

Sure, it’s a tough drink to pair with meals components. It’s tough to work with any sort of alcohol that’s immune to a sure temperature. This problem required cautious consideration and lots of consideration.

How did you go about making a menu to enhance this new whisky mix? 

Emma (Walker) and I labored carefully on creating the ultimate mix and thru this course of, I started to slim down the primary flavours I needed to have in my menu. Then I requested my groups what dishes they’d get pleasure from with a glass of whisky. Gathering this suggestions helped me to create a menu that works completely with the mix but in addition with my fashion of delicacies. I refined and refined and refined to get to the ultimate menu.

The Johnnie Walker model is understood for its progress, embodied within the “striding man” and the motto  “maintain strolling”. How does the philosophy of progress resonate with you, each personally and professionally?

This motto truly applies to me in each facet of my life, each personally and professionally. Nobody is aware of what life has in retailer. When confronted with any problem now we have to know the right way to react and proceed to maneuver ahead and – as I usually say – look even additional.

Johnnie Walker actively works to dispel conventional myths about ingesting whisky and emphasises that the proper method to drink it’s, nevertheless, one likes it! How do you drink your whisky?

I at all times evaluate whiskies to the noblest ‘’eaux-de-vie’’ (brandies). A whisky can positively be on par with a cognac or an Armagnac on a digestive menu to conclude a superb lunch or dinner.

On that observe, do you suppose there are any “myths” round Michelin-star eating places and if that’s the case, which might you most prefer to dispel?

This isn’t actually a delusion however reasonably a notion. Prior to now, it was thought-about {that a} Michelin star was solely awarded primarily based on a political agenda or to those that had been a part of a “community”. Luckily, this notion is now not a actuality.

Our philosophy at Restaurant KEI is to deal with each buyer as our greatest ambassador, everyone seems to be a VIP and we try to offer everybody the perfect expertise. If we carry on adopting this method, we are going to proceed to ship excellence.

Luxurious may be very subjective – what does it imply to you?

Luxurious has a special that means to everybody, for me it means the flexibility to supply an expertise and an emotional connection that may solely be skilled at a sure second in time.

What’s your life motto?

‘’Go additional’’

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