One of Japan’s finest chefs, we talk the importance of individuality and seasonal inspiration with Kouji Kimura, dual Michelin-starred sushi master.

PLUS: Kouji will be coming to London for a special pop-up this October. Read about it here.

What inspired you to become a chef?
Both my father and my grandfather were chefs.

Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I trained at the restaurant which was run by apprentice of my grandfather. I started to train from the age of 18, and I opened my own restaurant at 33.

What does it take to achieve not one, but two Michelin stars? 
To create a dish no one else can do but myself.

Do you have any role models?
Mr Doi of Tempura Mikasa.

What is your favourite fish to work with?
Sardine!

Tell us more about your ‘aged sushi’ technique – how does it differ from the standard?
My ageing technique involves the unique process of draining blood from the fish, controlling the moisture of the fish, and finish trimming before it starts to oxidise.

Name three of your top restaurants 
1 MIKASA
PELLEGRINO
3 NIITOME

What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs? 
Create a dish that only you can make, no one else in the world but yourself.

Do you have a favourite autumn ingredient?
I love sea bream.

What’s next on the cards? 
I’m trying out how to produce the ultimate balance of ‘umami’ and ‘non stickiness’ of rice by a new method of steaming the cooked rice.