Rika Yukisama | Notes from Japan

14 Aug 2015
2 min read
The infamous Rika Yukisama, “cooking researcher”, author and queen of Japanese cuisine, catches up with FOUR after the HYPER Japan festival 2015, the extravaganza that paid homage to Japanese culture, music and cuisine.

Tell us a bit about the Hyper Japan festival. What didthe event mean to you?

In the UK there is a growing interest in Japan, which is reflected by the expansion of Hyper Japan. The event was a fantastic way to connect people in London with Japanese culture and I wasdelighted to be a part of it.

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

I was not a natural cook and I owe a lot to my mother, who loved cooking. When I was young, I used to stand by her and watch her cook. Gradually, I started to make delicious and enjoyable dishes with little twists and techniques that I discovered from travelling all over the world.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

The power of food to make people smile and to evoke memories. It is incredible to think that memories of delicious food can be triggered even after 20 years!

Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over the years…

My style is based on fusion cooking, which evolves as I travel. I love to bring together two or three different cuisines in one dish. I’m a big advocate of recipes that are easy to cook, which is really important when swapping and sharing ideas across cultures.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

Vegetables, as they‘re healthy and delicious and create such variety in cooking.

What kind of experience didyou aim to give guests at Hyper Japan 2015?

I wantedto share not only Japanese food, but also our culture. We love to make many things with great detail and precision, and I wantedvisitors of Hyper Japan to experience this first-hand.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career?

I hope the most memorable moment is still to come!

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self, starting a career in theworld of food?

Start early. I became a producer at an advertising agency in Japan after graduating from college in the US, but then I realised that food was my first love. It was only then that I started my career in the world of cooking.

What’s next for you?

I would like to publish an English language book on Japanese food and culture. I would like to introduce readers to modern life in Japan, as well as traditional Japanese cuisine.

Which restaurant is currently at the top of your list?

I love many small restaurants in Thailand and Italy; a particular favourite is Antica Bottega del Vinoin Verona. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s huge variety in Tokyo. For example, as well as sushi restaurants, there are some fantastic Italian restaurants. Steak is very popular, too, and I run a restaurant called FOOD/DAYS that’s designed to serve quality beef at reasonable prices.

Find out more details about HYPER Japanhere |www.nhk.or.jp

Find out more information about Rika here |tokyo-fooddays.com