Welcome back from the Easter and Anzac Day break Dear Readers! I hope you had a restful fun time. To welcome you back I've got a special treat for you-keep reading to see what it is ;)
When I turned thirty a few years ago (cough cough) I had my first Tetsuya experience. I was dating Mr NQN at the time and he didn't care one jot about eating in fancy restaurants and as anyone that has dined at Tetsuya's can attest, it is one of the pinnacles of cuisine in Sydney. I paid for Mr NQN to eat there with me because I knew he would enjoy it and our friends and I were enraptured.
Fast forward a few years later and I have been lucky enough to attend a cooking masterclass and another meal at Tetsuya's as well as visit his Singapore restaurant Waku Ghin. The masterclass was a once in a lifetime opportunity and only invited guests of Electrolux are given one of the prized spots. He taught us how to do things like scramble eggs his way and in the absence of having a spot at one of these classes you can also watch it below in the video (and it also features my blogging buddy Bridget from The Internet Chef).
From the masterclass: how to make scrambled eggs, Tetsuya style
What I always wanted though was to ask him some questions which I was lucky enough to do-I was curious to hear what he thought of bloggers and why he came to Australia out of all the countries in the world. Why the obsession with Tasmania and whether he has any unfulfilled dreams. My friends of course asked me to ask him about being his next wife - cheeky girls (and they're already married!).
NQN: What did Tetsuya the boy want to do when he grew up?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I actually wanted to be a gunsmith, but I think I was fortunate that I found a career in cooking first!
NQN: Why were you attracted to Australia?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I grew up in a small town in rural Japan, and as a child I always dreamed of travelling and experiencing Western culture. When the time came in my early twenties, Australia was my destination.
NQN: I heard you mention at your masterclass that you are looking for a wife. Surely there is no shortage! What would a potential wife need to know about you?
Tetsuya Wakuda: She would need to know that I am married to my restaurants!
A dish from Waku Ghin: Marinated Botan Ebi (prawns) with sea urchin and Oscietre caviar
NQN: Why did you decide to make Waku Ghin a Japanese restaurant? What challenges are there to opening up a restaurant in Singapore as opposed to Australia?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I would describe Waku Ghin as being strongly Japanese-influenced, rather than a Japanese restaurant. I have had a long relationship with Singapore. It has been my favourite destination for years, and I have many friends who have encouraged and supported me in my dream to open a restaurant there. I have been fortunate to have the support of the Marina Bay Sands, which has eased many of the logistical challenges I might have faced. I have also been blessed by the ease of accessing produce in Singapore: they have much less stringent import restrictions than Australia, which means I can use ingredients from all over the world.
NQN: Who do you consider to be an equal or peer in the industry?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I think it is easy for people to categorise chefs for the purpose of comparison, but when it comes down to it, we are all cooks.
NQN: What is the one thing that everyone in your kitchen would learn?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I have to say that discipline is the key lesson that I would teach. In this industry, a good work ethic and discipline is essential to success.
NQN: Is there a dream that you've yet to fulfil?
Tetsuya Wakuda: Well, I would love to be able to go fishing every day, or even to be able to catch tuna off the Tasmanian coast once in a while. But mostly I feel very lucky in my life.
The iconic confit of Petuna ocean trout from Tasmania
NQN: What is it about Tasmania that you love so much?
Tetsuya Wakuda: It is so clean and untouched, from the beautiful landscape to the pure waters. The produce is wonderful and offers me inspiration. I have had a beautiful wooden boat built in Tasmania, and the island allows me a tranquillity and peace that is hard to otherwise find in my life. And of course, I have many good friends there!
NQN: What do you think of food bloggers?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I think food bloggers have, in a sense, opened up a new area of restaurant reviewing. A diner chooses to go to a restaurant for his or her own personal reasons, and will write what they think about it from a personal perspective. Food blogs can also be like an online test kitchen, as people are cooking and writing about it, experimenting with recipes and comparing results. Anyone with the passion to write a blog about dining or cooking should be admired.
NQN: What do you want your legacy to be?
Tetsuya Wakuda: I hope my cooking has pleased people who have a love of food, and that I might have inspired others to become interested in food and cooking. I hope I can be remembered as someone who contributed to progress in gastronomy during my time, and who made a difference to the identity of Australian dining and recognition of our produce internationally. Most of all, I hope people just remember me as someone who loved what he did.
Thanks to the lovely people at Electrolux we are giving away signed editions of the Tetsuya's cookbook to five lucky Not Quite Nigella readers! This is a competition that is open to anyone in the world! I know overseas readers get upset when they aren't included in giveaways but the decision to ship outside of Australia isn't mine but this time anyone can enter :) For a chance to win this *all you have to do is tell me what you would like your legacy to be! *Simply add your answer as a comment to the story. The competition ends at midnight AEST 28th of May, 2011. You can enter this competition once daily and it is open to anyone in the world!
Best of luck!
Lots of love,