Fueled by his parents love for eating out, Masanori Tomikawa’s interest in gastronomy piqued at a young age. After finishing school, he cut his teeth as a porter at the Okura’s flagship in Tokyo prior to moving to Amsterdam in 1984 to live out his chef dream.
Masanori spent many years working under Yamazato’s previous Executive Chef, learning the tricks of the trade and refining his beloved craft. In 2002, Tomikawa ventured back home to Japan to further his knowledge and prowess in his native cuisine. After 3 years, he was invited back to the Dutch capital to take on the role as Chef de Cuisine of Yamazato, and in 2010, he was given the reigns as Executive Chef and Manager of both Japanese Yamazato Restaurant and Teppanyaki Restaurant Sazanka at Hotel Okura Amsterdam.
No one embodies the unique cultural blend that characterizes Hotel Okura Amsterdam quite as well as Chef Masanori Tomikawa. Using seasonal ingredients at their prime, he is able to craft authentic Japanese haute cuisine according to the kaiseki ryōri principle. Along with the assistance of his gifted team of chefs, Masanori’s skill and attention to detail resulted in Yamazato being the first kaiseki restaurant outside of Japan to be awarded with a Michelin star.
Elevating the guest’s experience lies at the core of Masanori’s philosophy and thus, Yamazato has been carefully created to transport guests into a Japanese wonderland both through the food and the ambiance. The restaurant’s interior is adorned with typical Japanese materials while a beautiful cherry blossom tree stands tall in the adjacent garden. The elegant backdrop perfectly complements the delicate plates inspired by Japan’s ancient noble classes.
Masanori’s cuisine is distinguished by its emphasis on the purity of seasonal, traditional Japanese ingredients and his minimal plates focus on finding the perfect balance of taste, texture, appearance and colour.
Describe your culinary philosophy in FOUR words:
- Omotenashi, the art of Japanese hospitality
What is your greatest inspiration and how do you incorporate this into your cooking?
I certainly get inspired by the season. In the kaiseki cuisine it is crucial to create dishes that are in absolute harmony with the season. The connection with nature is very important in the Japanese culture, which is why we don’t use only traditional Japanese ingredients, but also incorporate Dutch seasonal food into our menus – such as white asparagus in our spring menu.
Moreover, the connection with nature can also be found in the decoration of a dish, e.g. the brilliantly coloured autumn leaves in our autumn menu and the beautiful cherry blossoms during spring. Not only are our menus influenced by the season, also the flowers in the dining areas, tableware and kimonos of the waitresses change according to the season.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
I would go to Kyoto, Japan to enjoy the traditional Japanese cuisine.
What FOUR things would you take to a desert island?
- Japanese knife
- Fishing rod
- Soy sauce
- 1 Michelin Star for Yamazato| The Michelin Guide 2002
Hotel Okura Amsterdam
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1072 LH, Amsterdam
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