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Italy and Japan are 10K km apart, yet they have something in common: the importance paid to raw materials in the kitchen. This is why connections between these two culinary worlds are so fertile. This is why some Japanese chefs who arrive here to acquire experience, are so charmed they decide to stay, as in the case of Yoji Tokuyoshi. Born in 1977, he worked for almost a decade at Osteria Francescana, where he became sous chef. In February 2015 he launched his solo-venture: he’s the patron-chef at the restaurant named after him in Milan.
When we asked him why he took this challenge – a Japanese cooking Italian food in Milan – he said: «I’ve always tried new things». It was a successful gamble, with one Michelin star since 2016. A nice goal, given how his adventure developed. He said: «At 18 I had a fight with my parents and left Tottori», his hometown, 150 km from Osaka. I wanted to face Tokyo and leave behind all the plans that saw him become a chemist like mum and dad and his brother and sister-in-law.
There was space for only one profession in his future: the cook. He attended catering school, and found a job in some Italian restaurants in Tokyo. At 27 he took a plane: he had one week to find a job in Italy, where he was told no some forty times. When his flight home was already booked, he got a call from Osteria Francescana, where he had sent his curriculum: «Ok, come tomorrow». He spent nine years there, before arriving in Milan.
Here he serves his idea of a fusion cuisine: «I cook Italian food with 100% local products. However, I use my own cooking techniques and philosophy». Yoji shines between two close and very distant culinary cultures, and finds his balance. Early in 2019 he opened a second restaurant, in Tokyo. It’s called Alter Ego, and serves Italian cuisine.
He’s a speaker at Identità Milano 2019.
journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief
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The stage of Gastromasa 2021, sixth edition of the fine dining congress in Istanbul. This year, the theme was "Design"
Giovanni Cuocci, to the right, at work in the kitchen of Lanterna di Diogene (photo by Giuseppe Valsecchi)
The protagonists of "Contaminazioni", Fusions, at Identità Milano, in Sala Blu 2, on Saturday 23rd March 2019. Top row, left to right: Jeremy Chan, José del Castillo and Antonia Klugmann. Middle row: Simon Press, Matias Perdomo and Roy Caceres. Bottom row: Yoji Tokuyoshi, Francesco Apreda and Mariano Guardianelli