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Why Chef Ryuki Kawasaki Thinks Bangkok Is the Best City For Culinary Experimentation

Working at the highest restaurant in the Thai capital, on the 65th floor at Mezzaluna – The Dome at lebua, chef Ryuki Kawasaki has climbed to lofty heights, both literally and career-wise. The affable Kawasaki speaks to Robb Report Thailand about why he sources wagyu from his hometown in Japan and his cross-cultural culinary approach.

How have your life experiences shaped your style of cuisine?
I started cooking with my mum and grandmother. After high school, when I decided to become a chef, I studied at one of the biggest culinary schools Tsuji, which has many departments. This was around the time the  ‘Iron Chef ‘ television show began. French food was new. There were many choices for me as to which cuisine path to embark upon. So I took a one-day trial with French food. I never learned about Japanese food in school. In the second year, I went to school in France near Lyon for six months. The teachers were French; the students Japanese. There were 50 people at Chateau de l’Eclair. We had restaurant training everyday, and after six months, we graduated.

What ingredients are you currently excited about?
I’ve been working for 15 years outside of Japan. I’ve lived and worked in London, France, and Las Vegas. This is first time I ‘m using Japanese ingredients. In Japan, there are four seasons, all of which offer unique produce: Japanese fish, and wagyu from my hometown, for example. In the town, there are only 700 cows, reserved for special customers. In Las Vegas, Japanese fish is expensive.

What is the best thing about living in Bangkok?
I like using flavours like lemongrass and Thai basil, as well as combining the best of Japanese and French cuisines.

What is the most technically complex dish on your menu?
I place importance on the quality of the produce, finding the best way of making dishes as fresh as possible. My style of cooking is not complicated. It’s all about the right types seasoning, and the correct ways of preparation.

Between the day- to-day kitchen operations, when do you find time to experiment with your food, to create new dishes?
I’m always thinking of new seasonal products. My approach for creating seasonal produce is simple. I change the menu every month. I decide which products to include, the combinations and the flavours. I consider the totality of the menu, anchored in French-Japanese concepts. When I use Japanese products, I prepare the food in a French manner with French flavours. Likewise, with French products, I would adopt a Japanese-style of cuisine preparation.

Lebua is a Bangkok destination, known around the world. What do you think Mezzaluna brings to the table?
In the past, I’d spent a lot of time preparing food. At Mezzaluna, I’m given a free hand. I enjoy discovering new ingredients and the right kinds of products to go with them. Suppliers in Bangkok are bringing in new produce because the restaurant scene here is becoming increasingly vibrant.

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Published 12th October 2016