Foie gras paired with wasabi, Japanese-style open kitchens, and a fierce work ethic: Joël Robuchon, hailed as “chef of the century” on his death this week, drew top-notch proposals from Japan, where ten establishments now bear his name.


The international’s maximum-starred Michelin chef evolved an immediate love for sushi, sake, and Japan itself after arriving for the first time in 1976, his baggage bulging with “forbidden or unknown produce like shallots, tarragon, and chives” as soon as recalled. Yosuke Suga, who worked with the famous perfectionist Robuchon for 17 years, said he might often speak fondly of his first impressions of Japan.

“He arrived at Narita airport and noticed how (the handrails) of the escalator had been wiped clean meticulously. And he stated to himself, ‘Japan is someplace I can work,’” stated Suga, now forty-one and going for walks in his restaurant. Kenichiro Sekiya, head chef at Robuchon’s L’Atelier restaurant in Tokyo, says the French grasp quickly stimulated by using Japanese substances and amazed his hosts with how he used them.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

A 2012 record photograph of Robuchon (left) and Japanese chef Hirohisa Koyama toasting at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris. Photo: AFP “He used wasabi, soy sauce, yuzu citrus, and shichimi (a blend of 7 spices with chili) to offer accents to numerous food,” stated Sekiya, 38, recalling his amazement when Robuchon added wasabi cream to foie gras terrine. “Japanese have constant thoughts for the spices, so it’s difficult to interrupt them. But Robuchon made his interpretation and used them in his way, which Japanese wouldn’t normally do,” he stated.

And certainly, one of Robuchon’s most famous innovations – the idea of the “Atelier” (or “workshop“), where customers dine close to the cooks, perched on high stools at a bar counter – became additionally inspired by utilizing Japan.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

At L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, the world’s maximum-starred Michelin chef tore down kitchen walls to give diners new insights into the artwork of haute cuisine. Photo: AFP “He wanted a reference to clients over a counter. Sushi cooks in Japan make sushi in front of clients and talk with them,” stated Kazutoshi Narita, a pastry chef who labored for ten years at Robuchon restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and Taipei.


In 2003, Robuchon opened his first Atelier eating place inside the relevant Tokyo district of Roppongi, and his photo still overlooks the chefs there, dressed all in black as they put together food in complete sight of the diners. He would fly to Tokyo at least three times a year to supervise his restaurant empire. He would hardly miss the possibility of reveling in his beloved sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro. US President Barack Obama dined with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. Sekiya said Robuchon, who held 32 Michelin stars, initially underestimated how hard it turned to make sushi.

“Sushi was simply sliced fish placed on rice to him initially,” he stated. “I heard he became fascinated by sushi after learning it becomes something extra delicate.” Robuchon additionally fell in love with sake, a fermented drink manufactured from rice, and currently opened a shop to promote the glass in Paris.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

The restaurant L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo. Photo: AFP

Champagne and camembert

Like most cooks, Robuchon becomes acknowledged to pressure his workers tough, and the famous Japanese work ethic appealed to him. “He became very demanding in quality phrases, but we appreciated that. We reputable that and were glad to paint with him. We’re perhaps a bit masochistic,” joked Suga. After his demise from pancreatic cancer in Geneva on August 6, Narita went to Robuchon’s 3-starred chateau restaurant in the fashionable Ebisu district to honor his reminiscence in his manner – with champagne and cheese.

“Chefs at Robuchon restaurants used to get collectively at the kitchen counter for champagne and camembert after work,” stated Narita. “That becomes my most nonviolent second with him. It was a moment in which I felt a sense of achievement.” And Robuchon leaves more than just recipes and inspiration in Japan – his 30-year-old half-Japanese son now runs a wine enterprise in the southern metropolis of Fukuoka. – AFP