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Japanese influence on NY chefs?

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I'm a journalist working on an article about how Japanese cooking has influenced NY chefs... Who are the big-name, non-Japanese chefs who have adopted Japanese cooking styles or ingredients or methods? ...any thoughts/opinions would be appreciated.

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  1. Check out Local on 47th St. This place goes further than being influenced by Japan (design as well as cuisine); it seems to have a Japanese theme. There are even a couple of sakes on their wine list. They have a website which posts their menu. The chef's name is Franklin Becker.

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      Erica Marcus

      I suggest you talk to Michel Nischan, the chef at Heartbeat in the W Hotel. The restaurant's baliwick is not Asian food, but healthy food, low in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and additives. But chef Nischan found a lot of inspiration in Japanese cooking since it is virtually the only cuisine around whose cooking methods and condiments--with the exception of tempura--do not rely on fat. He's also a very personable and articulate guy.

      1. Hi Lisa,

        Would you be interested in the viewpoint of a non-Japanese NY chef currently living/working here in Tokyo? If so, let me know, and I'll see if I can hook the two of you up (probably via email).


        1. Tadashi Ono is a Japanese guy, but he has worked for 20 years in French restaurants (including as the head chef at La Caravelle) and his Japanese-inflected French cooking at Sono is by far the most interesting of its type in the United States. He deserves to be as famous as Jean-Georges.

          Alfred Portale at Gotham has taken some things from Japanese cuisine, and always has a few great Japanese-ish dishes on his menus. Jean-Georges Vongerichten is obsessed with sushi. And Wayne Nish at March is incredibly influenced by Japan in terms of presentation.

          Most of the so-called Japanese influenced chefs, however, rarely stray past the occasional wasabi vinaigrette.

          1. Rocco Dispirito, Executive Chef at Union Pacific combines French cooking techniques with Asian ingredients. His website has sample menus that reflect a Japanese influence.

            Link: http://www.unionpacificrestaurant.com

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              Melanie Wong

              If you're willing to cast your net wider than NY, I'd suggest talking to David Vardy at O Chame in Berkeley, CA. Japanese country inn cuisine is the inspiration for this jewel, down to the serene setting.

              1. Lisa--you've gotten lots of information, but not much in the way of opinions and thoughts. Here's my take:

                Lots of chefs are looking for new culinary shtick with which to distinguish themselves. Dunk your Chilean sea bass into some miso, and instantly you're a fusion chef informing your cooking with the profound mysteries of the Orient. Miso dunks, raw fish, and decorative ginger are all delicious enough things, but a cuisine is more than a few token ingredients. A dab of miso does not make you Japanese-influenced any more than shouting "To be or not to be" makes you Shakespearean.

                1. The Kitchen Club on Prince street is a quirky looking and quirky tasting place with Japonese French fusion cooking. The chef-owner is Dutch. The food is hit and miss.

                  1. I would add to your list Anita Lo of Annisa. She is Chinese-American and classicly French-trained but has done some wonderful Japanese preparations without strain and without taking the fusion thing too far.