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Japanese influence on NY chefs?

lisa Mar 5, 2001 09:55 AM

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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    dasein RE: lisa Mar 5, 2001 02:33 PM

    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 RE: lisa Mar 5, 2001 04:14 PM

      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.

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        Andy P. RE: lisa Mar 5, 2001 05:01 PM

        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).


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          Pepper RE: lisa Mar 5, 2001 06:46 PM

          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.

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            Cathy F RE: lisa Mar 6, 2001 11:42 AM

            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 RE: lisa Mar 6, 2001 03:43 PM

              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.

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                Jim Leff RE: lisa Mar 6, 2001 04:30 PM

                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.

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                  howard RE: lisa Mar 6, 2001 10:51 PM

                  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.

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                    becky RE: lisa Mar 9, 2001 10:19 AM

                    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.

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