Having studied Politics of developing countries at Keio University - one of the top private universities in Japan - Chef Namae came to the culinary world with critical thinking and a philosophical mind. Apart from playing rock music and wanting to become a journalist, he worked in Hokkaido, South France and The Fat Duck in the UK before finally opening his own restaurant which was destined to be special.
London's many foreign hospitality workers had to leave the UK as the restaurant industry faced intermittent shut-down policy during the initial phase of the pandemic. What's more, many were unable to return to the UK due to visa issues caused by Brexit. As a result, restaurants are generally experiencing a shortage of staff.
Natsuko Shoji is only 33 years old. She started training as a pastry chef at Michelin-starred Le Jeu de l’Assiette in Daikanyama before working at the two-Michelin-starred Florilège for three years when she became its sous chef and decided to start her own business in 2014. Her mango cakes were an instant success and soon she opened her private table restaurant, initially catering up to four people before expanding to cater six by the end of 2019. I first met her in Hong Kong when I tasted her mango cake. She has mentioned in the press that many of her creative inspirations come from art and fashion brands, and she has indeed developed her own brand, or is at least a trendsetter, in the culinary scene.
Taiwanese cuisine was prevalently characterised by exquisiteness around the 1930s, if you consider the many refined restaurants of the Beitou hot springs region during the Japanese rule. Admittedly, Taiwanese cuisine today is typically associated with street food and home-style cooking, and many finely crafted recipes didn’t get a chance to be passed on. To recapture the gorgeous Taiwanese cuisine of the 1930s, the Yong Feng Yu Group, investor of organic produce restaurants including Green & Safe in Shanghai, has found Mountain and Sea House as well as Master Cai Ruilang, a traditional Taiwanese cuisine inheritor who has been in the business for 30 years and once studied under Master Huang Dexing of Peng Lai Ge Restaurant, one of the four major restaurants in Taiwan during the Japanese rule. The group also sought advice from local cuisine expert Huang Wanling on a few classic Taiwanese dishes in Tainan.
In recent years, at-home dinner parties have become less popular in Asia, which may be due to the fact that urban households are getting smaller and smaller, and people tend to dine out more and more often. I have always liked to entertain guests at home, but since I took “being a gourmet” as a my career , my life and work are inseparable from food. In addition, I have a higher standard for home banquets and an obsessive-compulsive personality andall that makes me not feel like entertaining guests at will.
My emotions were all brought back by the at-home dinner party held by the owner of Fika Fika Cafe in Taipei, James in mid-October. I received the invitation a month before the banquet, and I was told about the location only few days before. I called the host after arriving at an inconspicuous factory in Nangang, then the iron rolling door slowly opened, and the host's figure slowly emerged. There is some mysterious fun in the whole thing.
Kuni San’s appetite for cooking increased after he watched a Japanese cooking show when he was young and he has since enjoyed cooking for his family. He spent eight years in Italy throughout his 20 years of culinary experience. I met him five years ago when I was dining at Condividere in Torino, where he was the Sous Chef of Ristorante Tokuyoshi, a Michelin one-starred restaurant. He also worked at Trattoria da Amerigo, a traditional one-star restaurant near Bologna, which I really like. As you can tell, Chef Kuni has been trained in both traditional and modern Italian cuisine.
Cantonese cuisine emphasizes techniques and there is no standard procedure. It usually takes years of hard work for a chef majoring Cantonese cuisine to master the essence of it. Chef Max Wo, a celebrated graduate from the famous fine dining spot Lei Garden in Hong Kong with over thirty years of culinary experience, has welcomed renowned chefs both from Taiwan and from other countries at Silks House in Taipei since he took the helm from 2019. It has not picked up a Michelin star yet but it is my No. 1 Cantonese cuisine restaurant in Taipei.
The impact of covid on the UK people's life has become trivial as they can continue to live and work as usual even if they test positive. For the country's F&B industry, rising prices are not a problem for fine dining restaurants, some of which, however, have had to reduce the number of tables due to staff shortages, making it even more difficult to book at popular places.
People are already making plans to travel abroad as many Asian countries no longer require quarantine for returning travellers after October. London has always been popular with tourists and now with the devaluation of the pound and a tourism potentially boosted following the Queen's death, it could possibly become one of the most-visited destinations by then.
Entering the ninth year in Taipei since he traveled from Tokyo back in early 2014, Chef Ryohei Hieda is among the first of the new-generation Japanese chefs living in Taiwan. As one of the foreign chefs to have unearthed some of the best ingredients that even locals didn’t know about, Ryohei Hieda has pioneered a brand new perspective where he believes that the quality and variety of vegetables in Taiwan are well suited to Japanese cuisine. Before opening Shoun RyuGin, Ryohei Hieda and Seiji Yamamoto, founder of Tokyo RyuGin travelled around the island in search of the best regional produce, hoping to deliver similarly creative cuisine leveraging the richness and diversity of local ingredients.
Situated in the north of Italy, Bologna not only houses the almost 1,000-year-old University of Bologna, but the city is also known as the food capital of Italy, and not just for pastas. You may wonder if there is still any place for Michelin restaurants in this paradise of budget-friendly meals.