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interview • November 4th, 2021

Interview with Takashi Miyazaki

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Michelin star chef Takashi Miyazaki owns two restaurants: Miyazaki Japanese Takeaway and restaurant Ichigo Ichie. Both are located in Cork, Ireland, at a stone’s throw from historic landmarks, such as the National Monument and the 19th-century prison Cork City Gaol. Being the first to bring a kappou-style and kaiseki restaurant to Ireland, chef Takashi can easily be considered a culinary pioneer. We caught up with the chef and asked him about his love for curry and the one dish that he’d pick as his last supper.

Takashi, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Fukuoka is my home and I grew up with my family. My grandma was a great cook, I can still remember how her food tasted. My mum wasn't a good cook back then, but to be honest she does cook brilliantly now, as we often share recipes with each other. My dad was a kendo master, so I became a kendo player as well, I had no choice.   Luckily, my kendo skills did earn me a university scholarship – but I didn’t go to any classes because I had just gotten a cool motorbike. At the same time I also started working a part-time job at a café in a local domestic airport. The kitchen was small and dirty, and all products were frozen. Nonetheless, I loved working there. I started cooking for my motorbike friends and they loved it every time and thanked me. I felt like I was Santa. And that was when I started feeling like I wanted to become a chef and cook tasty food for people. You can see some of the dishes I make on my Instagram.

How would you describe your cooking style?

I’m a Japanese chef that cooks with Irish products while using Japanese techniques. I love working with local ingredients and building my menu around the seasons. Every menu tells a story. I also love working with different textures, flavours, and even temperatures.

What's your favourite dish to make?

That would be Mentai Ochazuke. Ochazuke is a rustic Japanese dish that consists of rice in hot tea. It can be topped with a variety of different ingredients such as seafood, vegetables and Mentai – spiced marinated cod roe from my hometown Fukuoka. I’ve always said that I’d like this dish to be my last supper.

What is your favourite ingredient to work with?

Daikon. It’s an edible root vegetable from the Brassicaceae family and comes in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Daikon is very popular in Japanese cuisine, although it's used in many other cuisines as well. It has been a steady crop in Japan for centuries and its name translates to English as "big root," as it grows rapidly and becomes large in size when the conditions and moisture in the soil are beneficial.   Daikon is very high in vitamin C, potassium, and phosphorus. Additionally, it contains several beneficial enzymes that improve digestion as well as phytonutrients that can help fight cancer. It's a very versatile vegetable and easy to incorporate into raw or cooked dishes like salads, stews, soups, and oven-roasted or even pickled preparations.

Who is one of your top suppliers or producers?

I work with so many local producers and growers that it's hard to pick just one. For example, I buy asparagus bunches from Lisheen Greens. It’s a family-run farm in West Cork that grows fresh chemically-free vegetables and salads. Another producer that I like to support is Caherbeg Free Range Pork. It’s run by the Allshire family in Rosscarbery in West Cork. They are artisan producers and all of their products are family-made instead of factory-made.

I love working with local ingredients and building my menu around the seasons

Takashi Miyazaki

Ichigo Ichie

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your culinary career?

For me, the biggest challenge so far has to be dealing with COVID-19. I'm sure I won't be the only person to say this. First of all, last year, we had to adhere to the two-meter-distance rule and leave half of our restaurant tables empty. Then in October, we were told that all restaurants must close completely. So, unfortunately, Ichigo Ichie must remain temporarily closed until the government releases its new guidelines for indoor dining. However, since January, we have been offering a sushi takeaway option at Ichigo Ichie. It’s a selection of nigiri, maki sushi rolls, akadashi miso soup, as well as a selection of bento boxes on Fridays and Saturdays. Each item is made fresh daily and the fish varies, depending on its availability.

Which gastronomic trend are you excited about the most?

I’m really supportive of sustainability. To cook sustainably is to reduce your impact on the environment, people and animals. By learning to use your food for all it's worth, you'll eat more deliciously, save money, and make decisions that are better for the environment, animals, and people. The zero-waste concept is also something that I like to take part in. That means also using leftover ingredients, such as vegetable and fruit peels, fish organs and vegetable stalks – which can be used for soups or purées.   Furthermore, I try to use reusable materials like bamboo, porcelain, glass, and metal. In addition to decreasing the use of plastics, the awareness of reducing the human ecological footprint on the planet is increasing. That’s why I like supporting small local producers: they grow their fruit and vegetables organically and don’t tend to pack their produce in plastic.

If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would that be?

Curry, for sure. Curry originated in India but is hugely popular in Japan too. The typical Japanese curry is thicker in texture and tastes sweeter but less spicy than its Indian counterpart. It is such a versatile dish. You can make it with vegetables, meat or even fish. And it can be served with either rice or noodles.

Thank you, Takashi.

Book your table at restaurant Ichigo Ichie

Pamper your palate with the outstanding Japanese cuisine of Michelin star chef Takashi Miyazaki. You can make your dinner reservation at restaurant Ichigo Ichie (Cork, Ireland) through our website.

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