Creating Joy in Japan with Food
A chef maneuvers ingredients, time and space
Chef Masayuki Okuda is owner and chef of the Italian restaurant Al-ché-cciano in Tsuruoka, and continues to expand his work throughout Japan as well as overseas. We visited him at Yamagata San-Dan-Delo, a specialty shop and restaurant of Yamagata products, in Ginza, Tokyo.
Okuda’s inspiration comes from his attention to the five senses including sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. He has created a unique vision derived from finding authenticity in items and people that he applies not just to cooking, but to projects “designing time and space”.
In this two-part interview, we dive into Okuda’s remarkable world of cooking through two lenses - “Cooking and Time”, and “Cooking and Space”.
Born in Tsuruoka, Yamagata in 1969. Owner and chef of Italian restaurant Al-ché-cciano in Tsuruoka (a solo venture in 2000 at age 31) and other restaurants. As the chef and producer of local projects around Japan including in his role as “Goodwill Ambassador for the Food Capital of Shonai”, Okuda has launched several restaurants around the country. He acted as food supervisor for “Japan Night 2012” at the World Economic Forum at Davos, and has presented food demonstrations at international festivals around the globe. He is the winner of many awards including “The First Annual Shizuo Tsuji Gastronomy Award”, “Yamagata Prefecture Industry Award”, and “The Cooking Masters” by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He lectures around the country and has written several books including his latest, Chihou Kaisei no Recipe.