Name: Chef Nobuyuki ITO
Chef Nobu was born in Kyoto but grew up in Osaka. He’s been cooking since he was 22 years old. He was a chef in Japan for 3 different restaurants, and moved to Sydney over 10 years ago.
Washoku Lovers met him in Busshari.
Washoku Lovers: So Chef Nobu, where did you learn to cook “Washoku”?
Chef Nobu: It was back in Osaka, from the age of 22, I knew I wanted to become a Chef. I’ve always loved good traditional food, and though my parents weren’t in the food industry at all, it was a passion so strong I’ve been doing this ever since!
WL: How long have you been cooking Washoku for?
Chef Nobu: For 18 years, nearly 20!
WL: What’s your definition of Washoku?
Chef Nobu: (taking some time to reflect – the Japanese way!) Keeping the original taste, the essence of an ingredient whilst improving the flavours… This is Washoku. Giving a definition to Washoku is hard, but one aspect of Washoku is Mukimono, it’s how you sculpt fruits or vegetables.
WL: So cooking Washoku outside of Japan… do you still think it’s Washoku?
Chef Nobu: Absolutely! Washoku is continuously changing. It’s not something that’s set in time. Japanese food is influenced by many other cultures, and some popular dishes that you think as being Japanese actually have foreign roots! Take Kare rice (Japanese curry), this dish has Indian influence.
WL: Oh, so can a non-Japanese cook Washoku?
Chef Nobu: Definitely. A non-Japanese can learn to cook Washoku. It’s the method, the way you do things, how you prepare food that defines Washoku.
WL: So what’s your opinion on mixing Washoku with other cultures? Do you still think it’s Washoku?
Chef Nobu: Well, it depends. If it’s tasty, then it is Washoku! (laughs)
WL: What’s your favourite Washoku signature dish?
Chef Nobu: Oh, it’s hard to choose, but if I had to eat one thing everyday for the rest of my life, it would have to be sashimi… providing I can eat any type of fish! Can I?
WL: Would you have any advice to give to someone wanting to become a chef?
Chef Nobu: I’d say sharpen your knife and be ready to learn! Being a chef is hard, but it’s rewarding to see customers enjoying the food you prepare. It has to be a passion
WL: Have you ever cooked the deadly pufferfish*?
Chef Nobu: Yes, the hardest part is actually cutting the fish. Otherwise, Fugu is very tasty.
* A certificate is required to prepare the deadly pufferfish. Only a handful of people in Japan have this skill.