Chef Atsushi Yonaha of Far & East at Four Seasons Bengaluru presents Japanese cuisine with his own twist. He chats with TravelDine on his new creations and philosophy of food.
Chef Atsushi Yonaha’s history with the Four Seasons might be brief, but he has been part of some of the hospitality world’s biggest names such as Shangri-La in Bengaluru, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Creek and the Ritz-Carlton in Okinawa, among others.
A native of Okinawa, Chef Yonaha is trained in the traditional Japanese Kaiseki multi-course culinary artform and is also one of the countries select few trained fugu license holders. A fugu-preparing certification is a government issued license for chefs who have mastered the art of carving the fatally poisonous fugu blowfish in Japan.
Chef Atsushi Yonaha, despite his numerous qualifications in traditional culinary artforms, brings a dash of boldness to the offerings at Far & East, Four Seasons Bengaluru. We caught up with him to pick his brains about his current creations, the menu at Far & East and of course, cooking through difficult times.
TD: Tell us a bit about your journey in the industry. How has it been so far?
CAY: I joined Four Seasons Bengaluru and was entrusted to open the most awaited Far & East restaurant where I get to craft authentic Japanese dishes with a playful twist. My journey in hotels has spanned a few global hotel brands namely Shangri-la, IHG, Radisson Blu, The Ritz-Carlton across Jeddah, Dubai and my home turf Okinawa. Trained in the traditional Kaiseki culinary arts, it has been a great journey showcasing artful Japanese cuisine to my guests around the globe. I’m a proud Okinawan and happy to be the culinary ambassador of my country Japan.
TD: Tell us about what you’re working on right now. Any new ingredients, dishes or menus that you’re experimenting with?
CAY: Since takeaway has become a watchword in recent times and we launched our niftily packaged Bento Boxes. Compartmentalised with gourmet delights, the bento boxes are hugely popular with guests. We also have a Chef’s choice Sushi Takeaway which I love to assemble for guests to tuck into in the comfort of their home.
TD: Sustainability is a buzzword currently across most industries. What does sustainability mean for you? How do you practice this with your creations or processes?
CAY: In Japan, we have been conscious about sustainability for a long time and now everyone has realised its importance. As a chef, we must always try to use seasonal and local produce in order to reduce carbon footprints. Freshly made dishes that are made to order also helps. I try and draw inspiration from my native Okinawan style of cooking and prepping. A lean and minimal mis a place while cooking, pre portioning of food in a la carte orders are some ways where wastage is tightly watched and curbed.
TD: With the pandemic putting a sharp focus on health, are you seeing any trends in the food industry to reflect this?
CAY: The lockdown saw many more members of the family enter the kitchen. And while home cooked meals have been the mainstay for a long time, there is a surge in the appetite for people to eat exotic food again. Of course, clean flavours and healthy food is in focus. I believe that Japanese cuisine matches this need very well, and there will be an uptick in the numbers of people wanting to eat food with delicate flavours.
TD: With the lockdown lifting, how has diner behaviour changed, if at all? Could we expect to see any new innovations when it comes to the dining-in experience?
CAY: We will be working on our menu offerings for dine-in but innovations in takeaway has been in the spotlight for us, for a while. The Bentos have been a big success and we are always trying to innovate and experiment with new offerings.
TD: The pandemic has impacted the F&B industry in a big way. How do you see the future for the industry shaping up?
CAY: Curating a great experience with hygiene safety, aesthetic presentation and customer service will allow establishments to shine in the long run. At Four Seasons, guest experience with unscripted service and supreme culinary craft will continue to be our focus.