We first met Chef Tadashi Takahashi during the ORTU Cooking Demo at De Dietrich. Now, we sit with him again to get to know him better and to find out how he became a chef.How did you learn to cook?
I like cooking. Before I started work, I was always working part time in the kitchen. I never worked at a convenience store. It was always at restaurants so that was where I developed my passion.
I was high school student so I was about 15 or 16. The hours for me weren’t that long for it was only a part time job. After that, I went to a cooking school for 1 year in Japan.What did you learn?
It was mostly Japanese cooking
. It was only for a year but we also studied about French
, and even Pastry making
. I had a special course for Japanese which I took every week. I took this class because I knew already knew that Japanese was what I wanted to cook for the rest of my career. Who taught you how to cook?
Mr Kumuro, my first boss at Kaiseki
Restaurant in Japan.
The things I learned from him weren’t just about cooking. It was also about life, work, and attitude in the kitchen. Now, I am about to open a restaurant with Oso
. If I don’t know anything other than cooking, I don’t think I will be able to proceed with this project. Like what they always say: I may be the best chef in the world, but if I do not know how to manage the business, how can I open a restaurant?
In Japan, a lot of people only know about cooking. But because of my boss, I learned so many things which have moulded me to become a multi-tasking chef. It’s not just about cooking anymore, it’s also about talking to people, and caring for your customers. What were the challenges you encountered while you were still learning?
Keeping the passion alive was one of the challenges. Sometimes, we don’t have time for everything due to our tight work schedule. For example, we would have a big event and during this time, we would only get 3 hours of sleep. We not only do the cooking but we also clean the kitchen utensils plus equipment. I started from the bottom but I have always treasured this experience.Was there ever a time when you just wanted to quit?
Never. I don’t many talents so I didn’t really have a choice. Haha!What brought you to Singapore?
I was working in Japan for 7 years before I moved to London and stayed there for 3 years. Then, I moved to Melbourne, Australia to work at Nobu.
In London and Melbourne, I was working in a fusion restaurant. For 6 years, I was doing fusion dishes
even though my background is really Kaiseki. At that time, I was thinking that if I didn’t change careers now, I would be stuck doing fusion. I wanted to go back to the Kaiseki style but I couldn’t do it in Nobu. Then, I got a job here in Singapore and I’ve been here for 1.5 years.Do you have any special gadgets which help you in cooking Japanese dishes?
In Japanese cooking, everything is special. I always use my knives and tweezers. How about your special appliances?
I really love the induction heater from De Dietrich. It works properly and is very efficient. During the De Dietrich cooking demo, we could put pots anywhere, press a button, and voila. It’s now cooking. Some induction heaters don’t work well when you put too many pots. When you are not busy, where do you hang out?
For me, the best sushi restaurant here in Singapore is Shinji
at Raffles Hotel. When I have time, this is where I always go.
I also like to relax in my house too when I get a day off. My hobbies are really cooking and eating. Haha! When I have energy, I also cook at homeWhat about your fave local food?
For me everything is OK. But I do have to give Chicken Rice
a special mention. Oh, I also love the Bak Kut Teh.In your opinion, why do Singaporeans love Japanese food?
Japanese food is very simple. It’s easy to eat and easy to taste. Restaurants are also not too formal so everyone can just come and enjoy friends over some sushi
or sashimi. This interview is brought to you by De Dietrich.
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