On this week’s Chef’s Life we talk to a man who sees his role as more than just a chef. Daisuke Hayashi is motivated by a mission to share the principles of Japanese cooking around the world. As executive head chef at the prestigious Tokimeitē in Mayfair, Hayashi is relishing the opportunity to educate the UK marketplace in the ways of authentic Japanese cooking.
Under the stewardship of the legendary Yoshihiro Murata, Hayashi quickly established himself as a much-needed innovator in a marketplace that is often stunted by tradition and convention. His reputation grew to such a level that he was bestowed the honour of curating the VIP menu for the G8 summit, and then he was tasked with revolutionising the in-flight menus for Japan Airlines.
It’s great to see a man of such culinary precision who insists on cooking display such a wide understanding of the cultural importance of food. We had a truly enlightening conversation when we caught up with him after his excellent demo at Tokimeitē…..
I used to go fishing, and when I caught the fish I was cooking them. It’s an important part of Japanese culture to be in touch with nature in this way. It makes the food more important.
Using this Japanese food I want to educate people in the world to promote Japanese culture… that’s my motivation. I’m still a student of Yoshito Murata. Mr Murata, Chairman of The Japanese Culinary Academy - his ambition has always been to make Japanese cooking a world cuisine and he has taught me this. He’s still working on this mission and is now world famous.
As a member of this academy I am engaged in this activity across U.K. and Europe. The other day I went to a local school and I gave some lessons. My dream is to change school meals in this country… all those burgers and chips!
Tokimeitē’s mission is to introduce Japanese ingredients and Japanese culture through cooking, but we have to use local ingredients as well because there are many high-quality local ingredients, and also, obviously we cannot import everything from Japan. So the mission of this restaurant is to let people know about Japanese food but in a positive way that combines with the many tasty vegetables and meat available in this country.
If a chef cooked in front of you and you ate it, in most cases it should be a unique experience. Organising and preparing an airline meal however, has plenty of limitations such as restricted space, time and temperature. The look of each dish should be appetising, consistent, healthy and of course, tasty! Not to mention that the chef is utterly absent.
The key point of Japanese cuisine is to have flavoursome food using Umami. Without salt, sugar and oil, if you can use Umami in your cooking, you create a healthier dishes. Umami can be found in cheese, mushroom, onions, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, carrot… even marmite.
There are many Washoku definitions. Japanese pancake (okonomiyaki), soul food such as ramen… everything from street food to Kaiseki. Washoku is the spirit of Japanese food.
Cooking is always evolving if you look at any time in history, because you get new techniques and new ingredients. I think cooking should always be innovating. Using tradition and innovation together is cooking.
Originally, sushi was a street food - fast food. Now if you go to a Michelin star restaurant they serve sushi! But this was just street food!
All chefs should use Umami!