********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************

------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Robb Report Culinary Masters competition Vol.1


I flew to Los Angeles to participate in the Culinary Masters competition, invited and held by an American luxury-lifestyle magazine Robb Report.  
An Iron Chef Mr. Morimoto, one of this year’s beyond-impressive members of Master Chefs, nominated me as a participant and I had been preparing little by little for the past 2 months. Entertaining 60 guests at a setting of a local hotel without making preliminary in a familiar kitchen of own restaurant required profound consideration into the menu and meticulous planning based on researches.

After landing and checking in at a hotel in Santa Monica, we made a brief round of visits to the Farmers Market and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, where the competition dinner was to be held. Arriving from London, our hearts skipped being surrounded by the Los Angeles’ clear sky, the sea and refreshing breezes. Although, our stay regrettably consisted of only back and forth travels between the kitchen and the accommodation.

A concept of the menu was a three-fold which I adopted from exactly what I pursue at Umu everyday: 1. to use the best ingredients available locally, 2. to implement most suitable technique according to each ingredient, and finally the ultimate, 3. to put smiles on guests’ faces through the experience.
Local information came to me through a circle of acquaintances I had come to know during my time in New York. Mr. Kang, an executive chef at Morimoto Napa, introduced me to numbers of outstanding producers and merchants. Other than world-widely popular sea urchin of Santa Barbara, striped shore crab, sweet shrimp, Mexican abalone and halibut were frequently seen in markets. Additionally, a wide range of quality fruits and nuts being available as local specialties got me excited to be able to take all ingredients in my actual hands.  

Despite hadn’t had the chance to see each other since the event meeting during London Olympic 2012, Mr. Morimoto provided me with this honorable opportunity and trusted me with taking charges, not only from culinary side but also in every factor involved. Moreover, I appreciated this special occasion for allowing me once again to have a great pleasure working alongside with Mr. Morimoto, and together giving our best to enliven this prestigious event.

Dan from Darioush, the wine sponsor of the Culinary Masters, created a refined selection of wines, that were chosen upon advises from Darioush’s Japan division, to specifically be paired with my dishes.  

Achieving to put smiles on the guests’ faces was highly credited to the supports from staff on site, whom includes: the Robb Report team led by Leslie who ensured smooth operation since the laying of groundwork, and Head Chef Gilles and his kitchen and service team at the hotel. Special thanks goes to Sous Chef Masa who, from the moment we landed, welcomed and had been attentive to any smallest issues, regardless to the fact that he worked by forgoing his holiday. 

Finally I am always thankful to my staff who, during my absences, continue to protect and maintain the “Umu way”. How I wished I could have taken every one of them with me…

アメリカのラグジュアリーライフスタイル雑誌、Robb Reportのマスターシェフコンペティションに招待され、ロサンゼルスに行ってきました。


到着してサンタモニカのホテルにチェックインした後、ファーマーズマーケットや会場となるビバリーヒルズにあるBeverly Wilshireホテルに挨拶に行く道中、ロサンゼルスの青い空と海、すがすがしい風にロンドンから来た私たちは心浮かれました。結局滞在した六日間の間仕込みに忙しく、ホテルと調理場の往復だけに終わってしまい、ほとんど街を楽しむことが出来なかったのが心残りでした。


現地の情報はニューヨーク時代の知り合いのつてを通して、いろいろと集めることが出来ました。Napa valley MORIMOTOExecutive chef, Kangさんからは多くの素晴らしい生産者、業者を紹介してもらうこともできました。Santa Barbara近郊で獲れるウニは世界的に有名ですが、それ以外にも岩ガニやボタンエビ、メキシコアワビ、ハリバットなどがよく獲れていました。また、果物やナッツなどの素晴らしい産地でもあり、食材を実際に手に取るのがとても楽しみでした。



現場のスタッフも準備段階から全てをスムーズに取り仕切っていられたLeslieさんをはじめとしたRobb reportの方々、到着早々からもホテルの副料理長であるMasaさんに迎えられ、その後も料理長のGilles率いるキッチンのチームやサービス担当の多くの人に支えられて多くのお客様の笑顔を見ることが出来ました。特にバケーション返上で出勤され、隅々まで気を遣ってくださったMasaさんには心から感謝しました。 


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