Chef Ryuki Kawasaki Talks
to TOP25 Restaurants
Chef Ryuki Kawasaki is a Japanese-born chef who is known for his innovative French dishes with a blend of traditional Japanese flavors. He is committed to using the freshest and highest quality ingredients and sources locally for ingredients for his dishes as required. Chef Ryuki has always had a passion for cooking, and he learned traditional Japanese techniques from his mother and grandmother before attending a culinary school that specialized in French and European cuisine. At this school, he won the “Best Chef of the Year” award and had the opportunity to apprentice under Paul Bocuse at his renowned restaurant in Lyon.
Chef Ryuki has served his Modern French cuisine at various restaurants in Japan, Paris, London, and Las Vegas, and he is currently the head chef at Mezzaluna in Bangkok. In addition to maintaining Mezzaluna’s two Michelin stars, he has gained a loyal following of diners and critical acclaim from food critics and industry professionals. If you are in Bangkok and want an exceptional dining experience, be sure to visit Mezzaluna and try some of Chef Ryuki’s amazing creations. You won’t be disappointed.
Was your decision to become a chef conscious or did you fall into it?
It happened naturally because I started cooking with my grandmother and my mother when I was like 10 years old or even younger. I started to like cooking then but I didn’t know this will become my job, cooking was enjoyable but I also liked sport. After high school, I needed to decide and chose cooking instead of sport because I preferred to be a chef.
What are some emerging food trends that you’re noticing?
To be honest I don’t know because I don’t like trends. A trend is trend and before you know it, the trend has changed. Therefore, it’s better to not follow a trend and do what you like or what you want to do and maybe one day what you do will become a trend. However, I follow what chefs do as I always have something new to learn, but not because of the trend .
What’s an emerging ingredient that you’re using a lot of these days?
What I do more now is the older technique or the ingredient we used long time ago. I have tried new many things and for me, the best is what people used to do, like back to the basics. Of course, time changed and even the same basic technique changes a but yet the traditional ways always work, probably because it has been tested and tried over the years.
What’s the difference between running a restaurant in Japan and running one in Bangkok?
Actually, I cannot answer this question answer because I left Japan about 20 years ago and many things have changed since then.
Do you source as much local produce as possible for the restaurant and does it have a big impact on your menu?
My focus is more on Japanese ingredients and of course French. I use more vegetables from local farms, Microgreen. Meat and fish are more likely to be imported from Japan and France. But I’m not saying sourcing ingredients locally is bad but this is our concept. The concept and style is different but I love, and always try to use more local produce for my dishes.
How is people’s relationship with food different between Japan or say France and Thailand?
I work alongside friends from Japan, France, England and the US but as I’m cooking French food I connect more with French chefs and French people in general. The French know the food and ingredients and for them it’s very important to go to a restaurant and fine dining scenes, it’s part of their culture, their life. French food for Japanese and Thai is more for celebrating a special occasion. They come to French restaurants mostly on a special day or anniversary.
Is there one dish that sums up your style?
I cannot choose a single dish but what I’m trying to do is prepare all my dishes in a way that people recognize my style. Sometimes we don’t recognize the chef but his signature dish; Paul Bocuse is a great example. I always try to create something very unique that my patrons will remember for ever.
Will any of the ingredients you discovered recently be making their way onto your menus?
Inspiration is the most important for me. I always cook and try to improve taste, the new creation or technique of what I’m cooking. Every month I make changes to the menu. I spend almost one month creating my menu and maybe another month training my team. So I put my best effort to make the best menu every time. But you know, maybe three months later, my mind needs to change. I may have a new idea, even on the same menu same dish. I may just make changes to a dish just after lunch if I am sure it’s needed or something come to my mind, always trying to improve. The most important is o keep creating and trying new ideas, if one day I stopped the creative thinking it would be better for me to retire.
Do you try out dishes on your family or friends?
I share with my sommelier first because wine pairing is very important to me. I respect them because they are very sensitive to taste. We exchange ideas and often he comes up with new wine pairing ideas.
What do you think are the most important qualities in a young chef?
I would say passion. Be passionate and work hard. Many people dream but the reality is different. We work long, hard hours in the kitchen and with people, a chef has to be driven by passion. You enjoy what you’re doing if you have the passion.
What do you think about chefs like Gordon Ramsay, who have taken haute cuisine to the masses via reality TV?
Personally, I’m not a showman; cooking and a TV show are different jobs. If some chefs have the talent to present a TV show, great, but not all chefs have this talent. Going by the very wide audience, many people enjoy Gordon Ramsay’s shows but what they see on TV and what happens in the kitchen is quite different. Gordon used to work as a chef in the kitchen and has the professional background and knowledge. He has influenced a lot of people and specially young people. Before these reality TV shows, chefs were only known from the kitchen, now some chefs have become famous and public figures. Reality TV has contributed to inspire young people to embrace our profession and even made it more glamorous.
What’s the one cooking tool that a Chef should not be without?
I will say my hand (laughs) maybe but picking just one tool is difficult because all of them is important. Of course, the knife is an important tool as we believe “the cut make the taste different”. In Japanese culture it is also said that cutting is cooking itself.
What’s the best advice you have you ever been given?
How do I say this in English (giggles) “do what you like and success will follow you”. If you don’t like your job, you may never become successful. It’s a Japanese saying.
What’s your favourite holiday destination? Japan?
No not Japan, I don’t go home. But one of the best place I have been in Santorini in Greece. Yes. I went a long time ago but a place I would like to go back to. Santorini was like heaven; I was feeling like I was in heaven. It was very unique and beautiful experience.
How did getting the two stars change your life your character? Your relation with with the guests? Did they change it at all? And if yes, how?
Absolutely, after at Mezzaluna we got two Michelin stars, people recognize us much more, even though, I feel, we didn’t change. Of course the restaurant gets much busier and people come to enjoy the experience. I like, and always liked, cooking so I just try to do my best. I’m still the same even though people call me Michelin star chef, for me it doesn’t matter how many stars I have, I’m still learning and try to improve my skills every day.