When France meets Japan on a plate ....
Close your eyes for just one second and imagine an exquisite Parisian restaurant featuring gourmet meats, extravagant creamy sauces and the perfect pastries all plated with delicacy and precision. Now take yourself 6000 miles across the world to the fun streets of Tokyo with the fragrant aromas of fresh ginger and shiso, an abundance of fresh market fish and that fabulous flavour of wasabi that tingles the palette.
Meet Chef Masahiko Yomoda, a 24-year veteran of the industry who marries these two cuisines on a plate to produce some of the most elegant yet electrifying dishes that tell the story of what happens when two cultures collide.
Chef Yomo (his preferred abbreviation) originates from Japan growing up in a family that have an enormous passion for the hospitality industry, his mother was a Japanese pastry chef, his father worked in a European pastry shop and his grandfather was a farmer.
Chef Yomo grew up surrounded by fresh produce and creativity so it's no surprise that he was destined to dazzle us with his work.
His story begins in 1995 in France working as an apprentice at the Three Michelin Star venue Alain Chapel. In 1973 Chef Chapel earned his third Michelin star, at the time he was one of only 19 restaurants in France which had ever then gained the honour and he went on to secure this accolade every year until his sad passing in 1990. Known as the French master chef, he was a true hero of the culinary world and his legacy carried on under Chef Philippe Jousse, who continued winning awards for the restaurant until its closure in 2012. Chef Yomo could not have been more humbled to have had this experience under Chef Jousse's reign.
Truffle was a regular ingredient to feature on the menu at Alain Chapel, in actual fact one of the restaurants most acclaimed dishes was Truffle-stuffed chicken, enveloped in pork bladder and cooked in a rich chicken broth. Still to this day Chef Yomo's techniques are highly influenced from his time spent in France and I know from my own firsthand experience of working with him that he is still very much a truffle lover!
Following his time in France Chef Yomo returned to Tokyo and began working as a Chef De Partie at one of Joël Robuchon's most formidable restaurants titled Joël Robuchon, the winner of Best Restaurant in the World in 1994 by the International Herald Tribune (now known as The New York Times).
Chef Yomo recounts "This role was the opportunity of a lifetime, especially to have exposure to such a talent."
Chef Robuchon has been globally successful since the 1970s, countlessly winning some of the worlds most prestigious culinary awards including many Michelin Stars.
Chef Yomo had to work very hard in this extremely structured environment and it took time for the head chefs to trust his capabilities, a slow but worthwhile process. During this time he also worked in Restaurant L'Osier, another of Robuchon's success stories. A menu influenced from Robuchon's discovery of tapas bars in Spain it actually gave him a new vision on cooking, he wanted to recreate his experiences and bring a theatrical element to the restaurant, therefore his chefs would cook in front of the guests.
After 6 amazing years with the company Chef Yomo parts ways and takes the role of Head Chef at Restaurant Arbace in Tokyo serving up stunning French cuisine to magnificent reviews.
Chef Yomo secures his own Michelin Star within the first year and goes on to spend another year and a half creating award winning dishes. "I am very proud to say I achieved this, it really is quite an honour." He tells me.
In 2008 Chef Yomo's inquisitive nature takes him to Sydney where he becomes the Executive Chef at the 5 star luxury Observatory Hotels, Galileo restaurant in The Rocks (now The Langham). After 3 years of serving up what was described as utterly sublime food, he spent the next few years adding iconic Sydney restaurants like the Bathers Pavilion, est., and Saké to his portfolio. It was during this particular time that Chef Yomo really started to diversify the way he cooked, he added even more magical flair to his growing experience.
By 2016 he was asked to head up a new venture, a role that meant he could dish up his two true passions on a plate, Japanese and French cuisines.
Mizz B'z Food & Wine hit all the right notes for Chef Yomo, it really energised his creativity. Chef Yomo started producing show shopping dishes like Cured Salmon served with spicy coriander dressing and raspberry infused marshmallows and his signature dish of Miso cod with spicy cucumber spaghetti. He also launched a 'Chefs Creation' menu; a sharing style menu filled with incredible and unexpected dishes that would wow the tables.
Mizz B'z went on to gain 1 Chef Hat from Australian Good Food Guide within its first year of opening and a certificate of excellence from Tripadvisor for receiving consistently excellent reviews.
During this time Chef Yomo also took up the role of restaurant consultant and spent time at Sydney's wonderful Tokyo Laundry to assist on menu creation, a project he still works on to this day. If you are lucky enough to visit be sure to order their amazing Sushi Taco with sashimi tartare, crispy nori and spicy misonaise, or try their famous Popcorn Shrimp, they are sensational!
But once again it was time to spread those imaginative culinary wings and head to Melbourne.
Chef Yomo decided he wanted to bring his award winning cooking to the mainstream market, lucky us!!! First up was a collaboration with Melbournes beloved Japanese restaurant Tetsujin based in the CBD's Emporium. He created a brand new lunch menu filled with an array of delicious options including New style sashimi, salmon and kingfish with popped rice, wasabi snow, ponzu jelly and black goma dressing. Tetusjin was invigorated and once the word was out about Chef Yomo's influence it quickly became a hub of activity!
In addition to this, he is also the Creative Director for the wonderful Ishizuka restaurant a 2 Hatted, 16-seater restaurant within a subterranean space on Melbourne’s Bourke Street. The nightly set menu of up to 11 courses is informed by the Japanese philosophy that a chef should not overwhelm the original flavour of fresh ingredients, instead opening them up with minimal seasoning.
What are you currently working on Chef Yomo?
"I spend my time between both Sydney and Melbourne consulting on menu creation for a range of restaurants. I find this side of the business so much fun as there is nothing more satisfying than showcasing new skills, dishes and flavours to a young kitchen team, things that they can then share with their customers." He tells me.
Not one for sitting still, I also know for a fact he is working on a new fancy project opening in early 2020 based in the heritage building in Raphael Place in Sydney called Artistry Garden. Appointed as the new Executive chef, Chef Yomo will be part of what looks to be a really exciting venue and concept. He confirmed the restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving up his ultimate delectable fusion of French and Japanese cuisines. My advice would be to follow Artistry Garden on social media because with Chef Yomo at the helm this is a place you will want to visit!
After knowing Chef Yomo for the past 4 years he still manages to pleasantly surprise me with his innovative way of thinking and dynamic personality. It's unquestionable the amount of extraordinary talent he has. Every kitchen he walks into is injected with the same amount of passion, care and precision in order to achieve the high quality results that he strives for. The kitchen is a place where his creativity thrives and flourishes. Chef Yomo's ability to inspire and motivate others is like nothing I have ever seen and his food is always supremely delicious.
Chef Yomo I really am so proud to know you and your kind spirit, I wish you continued success for the future and I will be closely watching (and hopefully tasting!).
Photos from social media