Japanese chef Shimomura Kazuya is known for his impeccable integration of modern and traditional Japanese cuisine. The Leela Palace New Delhi has collaborated with the acclaimed chef for their award-winning modern Japanese restaurant, Megu. His appointment as the Head Chef of Megu is backed by his 26 years of experience in the
Chef Kazuya has worked in the famous kitchen of Hinokizaka at Ritz Carlton, Tokyo; and at Asia’s leading Michelin-starred restaurant, Mizumi at Wynn Macau. Now he is set to treat Delhi with the same expertise which has fetched him global renown.
Talking about his decision to pursue a career as a chef, he informed us that since childhood he had been inclined towards cooking: “During my high-school days I used to cook for my friends and they always appreciated whatever I cooked and showered me with praises. This motivated me to further join the culinary industry.”
Chef Kazuya started his career at the age of 18, with the Intercontinental Group—a hospitality company—in Tokyo. Chef Kazuya looks back on his journey with contentment. “I worked on myself and groomed myself to not only master cooking skills, but also train myself in new techniques. To mould myself according to the working conditions. This further helped me to sustain in this industry,” he said.
Japanese cuisine has found favour with restaurants around the world. Chef Kazuya described what the cuisine is all about and the place it holds in his life. “Authentically Japanese cuisine is based on seafood, vegetable and rice. In it, the use of meat is less than that of seafood. However, these days, Japanese people are more interested in trying out other cuisines. Japanese cuisine will always be close to my heart. It connects me to my culture and tradition and that’s very important to me,” he said.
During his initial years in the industry, Chef Kazuya mastered the art of tempura (a Japanese dish) and also acquired the skill of curating kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese style dinner). The chef finds working on kaiseki-style cuisine very interesting and admitted that it attracted him more than any other style of food preparation.
With fusion food trends extending to Japanese cuisine, Chef Kazuya has a few tips to offer for curating dishes which have authentic Japanese flavours with a modern touch. He told us how to seamlessly approach such preparations. “Ingredients are the most important facets of any cuisine and with great imagination one can create new dishes at ease. Combine your skill with imagination and give a modern twist to a traditional fare. It’s all about the technique that goes into preparing a dish.”
Now that Chef Kazuya has entered the Indian hospitality industry—with The Leela Palace’s Megu—he intends to introduce some interesting set menus and is currently working on developing the same. Commenting on the appointment of Chef Kazuya, Louis Sailer, general manager of The Leela Palace New Delhi, said, “We are pleased to welcome Chef Shimomura to our modern palace. In his new role, Shimomura will head the Megu team and elevate the modern Japanese dining experience further. I am sure, with his signature style and natural flair he will not only charter new culinary heights but also excel in the fine-dining segment in the city.”
Some of the signature dishes Chef Kazuya has created at Megu are Tuna Avocado Tarutaru, Crispy Ebi Potato, Cold Tomato Soup, and Konabe Hokkaido Scallops etc. In the dessert section, he has devised the exquisite Orange Plate Remon Jelly.
India has recently witnessed a boom in Japanese restaurants, which makes Kazuya’s venture here well-placed. He said, “Sushi was introduced to the Indian market first in the name of Japanese food. Now, there is more to Japanese cuisine than sushi in India. It has steadily gained popularity among diners. This sudden popularity has led to a rise in the demand of more and more Japanese restaurants across India now.”
The veteran chef shared with us his food philosophy that he has been following for many years. He said, “For me, food connects your mind with your soul and that makes dining a memorable experience.” Now with Megu, Chef Kazuya is keen on continuing this legacy in India.