Recently we caught up with Kazushi Iwane, executive chef of Japanese restaurant Mai at the Westin Tokyo Hotel. He shares with us how he manages to help foreign customers enjoy traditional Japanese food, a registered World Heritage cuisine. He talked to us about the concepts behind the cuisine and shared his insights about spreading its splendors.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
I believe that the Westin Tokyo Hotel has a mission to serve World Heritage traditional Japanese cuisine in an authentic environment. Our customers look forward to experiencing a fantastic Japanese meal at our restaurant, and we enjoy the opportunity to guide them through this extraordinary cuisine.
A main characteristic of Japanese culture is that it has four distinct seasons. At our restaurant, we specifically prepare dishes according to each one. It doesn’t stop there. As we explain to our customers, the restaurant decor and service vessels for each course are also selected to represent the different natural variations of the seasons throughout the year.
These days people all over the world know Japanese sushi and can enjoy it prepared right in front of them. However, it is still a rare opportunity for customers to be able to dine on a wide variety of beautiful and delicious traditional dishes prepared with the best seasonal ingredients in an authentic environment.
I am solely dedicated to Japanese cuisine. After training at several restaurants in Tokyo, I joined the chef group of the Westin Hotel as the executive chef of Mai when I was 40 years old. When I joined the group, I was given the chance to train local chefs in different parts of the world — such as Abu Dhabi and Maldives — in the art of Japanese culinary.
What I most enjoy is the opportunity to contribute my skill and knowledge in serving customers throughout the world who adore eating Japanese cuisine.
About the Westin Tokyo Hotel Series
In this series, we interviewed people working in various positions at the Westin Tokyo Hotel to gain insights into how visitors and foreigners residing in Japan, including those who do not speak the language, can better enjoy the variety of cuisine available.
We heard delightful stories from each of those we interviewed, including the hotel’s general manager, the general executive chef, the Chinese cuisine executive chef, and the Japanese cuisine executive chef.
Meals are an essential element in the joy of travel. As we learned through our interviews, when various foreign cultures make their way to the islands of Japan they also transform, adding on new elements that differ from the original. Perhaps nowhere is this more clearly found than in the subtle variations and ingredients which accompany each of the “four seasons,” which are a main aspect of the food culture in Japan.
Although pricey, high-end hotels offer superb quality and dedication to serving visitors from all over the globe, including those who may not understand the country’s language. Japan should be appetizing to visit during any season and the delicious cuisines available here ought to be savored to the fullest.
Read the other parts of the series here:
Author: Yukihiro Watanabe, JAPAN Forward