Chefs

ARAKI, Shigeo 荒木稔雄
Araki-sensei is the 9th generation head chef of Uosaburo 魚三楼 in the Fushimi district of Kyoto. His forefather first established a catering business, preparing high-class fish cuisine in the homes of the wealthy merchants who had businesses, warehouses and sake breweries in this busy hub of river and road transport. Now, Chef Araki’s culinary focus is on high-grade Kyoto kaiseki cuisine that features food and tea prepared with the famous waters of Gokosui spring. He is also well-known for his work in promoting regional cuisines, especially in the northern area of Tohoku in the aftermath of the tsunami that struck there in 2011.

IIDA, Satoshi 飯田知史
Chef Iida is the 14th generation head chef of Dōrakurō Wabiya 道楽楼侘屋 in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto. The restaurant was first established as a teahouse for the pilgrims to Toyokuni Shrine in 1630 and has stayed in the same family since that time. Iida-sensei is committed to sharing the knowledge he has inherited and teaches ongoing classes in traditional Kyoto cuisine at his restaurant. He has also written a number of cookbooks about traditional Kyoto cuisine.

MATSUNAGA, Keiko 松永佳子
Matsunaga-sensei was born in Kyoto and graduated from the Kyoto Culinary Arts School. She established her own cooking school in Kamigamo, nearby to the great Kamigamo Shinto Shrine. Matsunaga-sensei specialises in teaching traditional obanzai style cooking, which focusses on homestyle recipes passed down in local food lore and featuring fresh seasonal ingredients. She also teaches classes at the Kyoto Ajiwaikan. Matsunaga-sensei has published a book of 100 obanzai recipes “Kyo no obanzai 100 sen” and has a regular column in the Kyoto Shimbun newspaper.

MURATA Yoshihiro 村田吉弘
Chef Murata is the 3rd generation head chef of the Michelin 3-star kaiseki restaurant, Kikunoi 菊乃井. He is committed to spreading the word about Japanese cuisine and established the Japanese Culinary Academy so that young chefs from around the world can come and study Japanese food traditions. He is a celebrity chef who has taken the traditions of kaiseki cuisine to new heights through constant reinterpretation and development and has influenced chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa and Ferran Adria. You can read more about him in English here.

NAKAMURA, Motokazu 中村元計
Chef Nakamura is the 6th-generation head of the Michelin 2-star restaurant Isshi Sōden Nakamura 一子相伝なかむら. After university, Chef Nakamura spent time training in the Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple Tenryuji, before returning to the restaurant to train under the rigorous instruction of his father, inheriting a deep appreciation of the Nakamura culinary tradition and cultivating an intuitive sense for “hearing the voice of the ingredients.” His approach to cooking is influenced by his Zen training, whereby he hopes to impart to his guests a unique and precious experience based on conveying the essence of the ingredients of that day in a once in a lifetime opportunity known as “ichi-go, ichi-e.”

NISHIKAWA, Genbo 西川玄房
Nishikawa-sensei is the abbot of Torin-in temple, located within the grounds of the great Zen Buddhist temple complex of Myoshinji. He is a renown shojin-ryori chef and teacher, for whom cooking is as much about spiritual nourishment and well-being as it is about maintaining physical health. He has written a number of cookbooks that feature the simple pleasures of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine as a way of connecting to nature and as an act of appreciation for all the people and the acts of nature that bring us our food.

SASAKI Hiroshi 佐々木浩
Chef Sasaki is the head chef and owner of the very popular Gion Sasaki, which he opened in 1996. Chef Sasaki is known for his innovative approach to traditional Kyoto cuisine and is always experimenting; for example, his installation of a pizza oven was revolutionary and illustrates his constant endeavour to push the boundaries whilst still remaining true to the traditions of Kyoto cuisine. He has published a number of books, including “Gion Sasaki: Theatre of Hiroshi Sasaki” (in Japanese), which won the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook of the Year.

SONOBE Shingo 園部晋吾
Chef SONOBE is the 21st generation owner of Yamabana Heihachi-Jaya, established in 1576. Dedicated to promoting education about the traditions of Kyoto cuisine, he is a prominent teacher at the Japanese Culinary Academy and is currently the director of the Kyoto Ryori Mebaekae Kai. In 2006, Chef Sonobe received the prize for excellence among young artisans from Kyoto City.

TOKUOKA Kunio 徳岡邦夫
Chef Tokuoka is the internationally renown executive chef of the highly-acclaimed Kitcho 京都吉兆, located in Arashiyama. He trained under his grandfather, Taiichi Yuki, who founded Kitcho. Chef Tokuoka is known for his humble and affable manner and his great passion for sharing information about Kyoto cuisine. Although is one of the world’s greatest chefs, he always insists that it is the farmers and artisans who are the true heroes of Japanese cuisine. You can read more at Savory Japan (in English)

UKAI Haroji 鵜飼 治二
Chef Haroji Ukai is the seventh-generation head of the traditional kaiseki restaurant Kinmata 近又, a cultural heritage listed building located very near to the Nishiki food market. In recognition of his commitment to styles of cuisine that feature locally grown produce, as well as his extensive knowledge, Master Ukai has been designated by the prefectural authorities as Master of Kyoyasai (traditional Kyoto vegetables). This prestigious award is held by only a select few restauranteurs in Kyoto.