Chef Name: Yoshinori Ishii
Title: Executive Chef at UMU Japanese restaurant.
Rising Star Chef in the United States, 2008.
Finalist in the Vilcek Foundation Award, 2010.
Culinary master 2014 in the Robb Report, United States.
Two Michelin stars since 2015.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
19 years old.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
Miso braised mackerel, cooked by my mother when I was child.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
Hitoshi Ishihara, owner and chef at Mizai Kyoto (three stars). He was my mentor when I was young and he still continues to pursue Kaiseki cuisine. He is a legend of Kaiseki Japan. He taught me where Kaiseki comes from and what Kaiseki is. His whole life still inspires me.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
Mizai by my mentor, Hitoshi Ishihara. I can remember my origins and refine my creations. Kitcho by Teiichi Yuki, who was owner chef at Kitcho (three stars), where I started my culinary career in Kyoto.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Good salt, Japanese rice.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
Mizai. I know his dishes very well but he still gives me a lot of inspiration every single time.
And who would you take as your guest?
What do you look for in a good chef?
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
Do not change your place of work too often.
Chef Yoshinori Ishii is Executive Chef at UMU Restaurant.