Yoshinori Ishii: the artful chef
- Chef at Auberge TOKITO, Japan
- Former 2 Michelin Star chef in London
- Kyoto influenced cuisine, including Kaiseki
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Upon returning to the Japanese restaurant industry for the first time in 20 years, the venue of choice for engaging in a brand-new challenge is Tachikawa, Tokyo.
Responsible for the first Michelin two-star Japanese restaurant in Europe with kaiseki UMU (Mayfair, London). Widely-renowned in the UK as the pioneer of ikejime.
After building his career on achievements as the sous-chef at Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama, Yoshinori Ishii pursued an overseas career and worked as a chef at the UN ambassadors’ residences in Geneva (Switzerland) and New York (USA). In 2010, he was appointed as the executive chef at UMU, a kaiseki restaurant in London where he maintained one Michelin star. In 2015, he led the establishment to two Michelin stars, the first Japanese restaurant in Europe to receive the accolade, which he maintained until 2021.
In the UK, he is widely known as the pioneer of ikejime (a method of preparing fish to maintain freshness and quality), which he passionately and persistently taught people involved in the fishery and restaurant businesses. He made it possible to procure bright-eyed fish maintaining a level of freshness never before seen in the UK, contributing greatly to the industry. His uncompromising attitude reveals his motivation and commitment to providing superb ingredients.
His commitment is also present in the tableware, which Ishii creates and uses to present his dishes. At Auberge TOKITO in Tachikawa, Tokyo, his unique view of the world is expressed through his numerous handmade ceramics skillfully coordinated with his dishes.
To start, Ishii trained for nine years at the three Michelin-starred restaurant Kyoto Kitcho in Japan. Although he was sous chef, Yoshinori Ishii also took responsibility for cultivating traditional Japanese vegetables and preserving and arranging all the cultural assets owned by the restaurant- from flower arranging to tableware.
Head Chef at the Japanese Embassy for the United Nations in Geneva and New York
Following his time at Kyoto Kitcho, Ishii then became Head Chef at the Japanese Embassy for the United Nations in Geneva and New York. Then, he worked as Omakase Chef at Morimoto restaurant also in New York. During his time there, he received the prestigious ‘Rising Star Chef’ award and was a finalist for the Vilcek prize for culinary arts.
Yoshinori Ishii recognises the synergy between Kaiseki cuisine and craftsmanship and through his passion for pottery has incorporated this artistry at Umu. This passion saw his involvement in the Anagama pottery project between Oxford University and Bizen, one of oldest pottery districts in Japan.
Received “Rising Star Chef Award” in September 2008
Gave a series of classes (demonstrations) at French culinary institute in May, June 2009
Received “Vilcek Foundation award” finalist March 2010
Received One Michelin star from 2010
Culinary master 2014 by Robb report U.S.A.
Invited Michelin stared chef event at Vila vita resort in Portugal 2015
Received Two Michelin star for 2016
The Epicure – Zurich’s Michelin Star CULINARY MASTERPIECES 2016
World Gourmet Summit 2016 (Singapore）
MICHELIN guide Hong Kong Macau’s inaugural Street Food Festival 2017
Maverick chef of the Year (London Restaurant Festival U.K.) 2019
Ceramic arts, calligraphy (Second dan), flower arrangement,
Tea ceremony, porcelain painting
Fishing – When traveling overseas I am so fanatic about fishing that I will pack my fishingrods in my bags before my kitchen knives