We interviewed Restaurant L’aube's owner chef Hideaki Imahashi and chef patissier Shoko Hirase. We will introduce the dishes they have created inspired by ARASdishes,and will also look into the encounter between Imahashi and Hirase and the philosophy behindRestaurant L’aube
Vegetables grown on farmland near the sea, especially in open fields, have a rich nourishing flavor, robust taste, texture, and character.
May31st(Sun),In the field where I used to farm on the border of Yokohama and Kamakura cities in Kanagawa Prefecture, new onions, new potatoes, thick lettuces with a few sprouts, yellow capsicum and black radish, remnants of spring, cucumbers heralding early summer, young zucchini shoots, first harvest of hidden roots, and still green tomatoes and eggplant were waiting for the rainy season to arrive. Mint, cilantro, arugula, and fennel flowers, whose fragrance becomes stronger before summer, swayed in the lightly humid sea breeze, giving off a strong and aromatic scent.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
───Please tell us about the story before you two met.
Rstaurant-Iopened in2009as the Tokyo branch ofKEISUKE MATSUSHIMA a restaurant trained in Nice, France. I would join the restaurant from its inception, but would leave after less than a year. Then, a restaurant in Kamakura asked me if I wanted to work as a chef. I received an invitation to join the company. Since I am from Yokohama, I accepted the offer. There I met Kamakura vegetables.
"I want to grow vegetables."
There are many ways to work with "food," even if it is not only cooking. With this in mind, I began farming. He worked5 days a week for the producer and spent the other2 days in the restaurant. After about six months of such life, I gradually began to spend more and more time working in restaurants instead of focusing on farming.
"Imahashi-kun is a chef after all, so you should go back if they want you."
The words of the producer, vegetable farmer Koichi Kato, still remain deeply in my mind. And made my mind to back toRstaurant-I.He worked as the chef's right-hand man for about a year and then became the chef of the restaurant.
At that time, the restaurant was looking for a pastry chef. There was no shortage of pastry chefs, but there was no one who was particularly qualified. We were looking for a fixed pastry chef.
"There is a very skilled woman who worked as a pastry chef in France."
The girl who was my second in command at the time knew someone who had an idea. Yoko: Hirase came to interview me at that time
It was just the right time for me to move to some other restaurant. There was a period of time when I was ill and took a break. After that, I helped out at a friend's restaurant because they were "short on staff," but that was only "helping out.Even if it is my own idea, it is served in front of the customer as my friend's name (the chef's name). This may be an extreme expression, but I am not responsible there.
I want to work as a "chef" again.
At that time, I was approached by「Rstaurant-I, who told me that they were looking for a pastry chef.
Onions are pan-fried to give them an earthy aroma, while the heat transforms their pungency into sweetness. New potatoes are slowly boiled in salted water to make them hunky. Boil the hides quickly in salted water and cool immediately to retain their texture. Eggplant is boiled and soaked, cucumber is sliced and lightly marinated in salt and lemon flavored olive oil. Root vegetables are sliced into2mmslices and exposed to ice water to bring out the nourishing flavor of the vegetables brought by their texture and thickness, while lettuces, which are well moistened, are lightly washed and used as is.
The salad brings out the individuality of each vegetable through cooking, so you can taste the true flavor of the vegetables with all five senses. I thought this dish was appropriate for my experience as a farmer.
──What was your impression of each other?
As with his career, once you meet him, you will know that he can "get the job done". As a pastry chef, I would have loved to have you join us.
I had the impression that he was a man of trust. For example, I was surprised to see him instructing his junior staff to "think about how the person who made this food has thought about growing it," when they treat vegetables and other foodstuffs roughly. Normally, I would be more roughly offended. He makes sure to convey the message, "Don't forget to think about the feelings of the creator." It must be because of his experience as a producer. It is the same with vessels. He always said, "If you are the one who makes things, you must treat them with care and consider the feelings of the people who make them. It was the first time I saw someone instructing in this way.
I think it was my encounter with Chef Shigeru Imahira that made me strongly aware of the need to understand people's feelings. I started my career at a restaurant called Kirifuburo in Yokohama. I worked under Chef Imahira for 6and a half years. He always said, "Character comes before technique," and he was a person who prioritized what was important to him as a human being. At the time, I had just entered the culinary world, and I didn't know what was right and what was left. Each time I went to a new site, I seemed to understand Chef Imahira's words physically, as if they were deeply ingrained in me. My experience as a producer in Kamakura was also significant. An old lady picking mustard greens with her hands swollen and red from chilblains. The way they come out to the work shed at4 in the morning to harvest vegetables. When I see such a scene, each of them is a creator, and they are producing something. I believe that we should not forget to show our appreciation and respect for them.
I met Mr. Hirase, and at the same time, he introduced me to secca, the company that designed the tableware for this event.───。
The sauce is made by condensing the flavor of dried sweet shrimp and adding fish sauce, olive oil, and chili peppers. Dried sweet shrimp is an ingredient that I have fond memories of being introduced to the people at secca, who designed this dish, when I first met them, saying, "We have something like this in Kanazawa.The sauce I made at that time was simply a combination of crushed ingredients, olive oil, garlic, and chili peppers. Although I remember that it tasted good even though I made it on a hunch, looking back on it again, I realize that it was still a bit rough. About7 years have passed since then, and I received this story（ARAS Journal）just as I was working on a prototype to sublimate this sauce for the next menu. I thought it was a good choice, including these backgrounds, because the timing was right for secca to join hands with Ishikawa Resin and sublimate their technology with new materials, taking hints from past experiences.
L’aube 〈The Beginning of an Echoing Story〉
───How did you come to openRestaurant L’aube
As I gained various experiences, I began to feel constrained by the idea of working within the philosophy of others. Perhaps this was the cause, but it was also causing me to become ill. I began to think about doing things on my own out of a desire to "simply do what I wanted to do. A restaurant is definitely not a one-man operation. There is a right-hand man, a left-hand man, and of course a chef, who is in charge. I knew Hirase-san also had a desire to do a restaurant, so I asked him, "Why don't you try it with me?" I asked him to join us. The timing coincided in many ways.
To create an exquisite harmony between the beauty created by nature and the beauty created by man. To continue to create "tastes that exist only at that moment. This is where our story begins. We named it「L’aube」with this in mind. We will bring you new tastes, pleasures, comfort, and the beautiful moments of their birth, where the producer's commitment, the scenery, the changing seasons, and the culinary cultures of Japan and France resonate with each other.
〈※from Restaurant L’aube HP〉
The food atRestaurant L’aubeincludes small finger foods,5dishes, 2 desserts, and finally chocolates. First, we ask people to touch it with their hands, experience it with their sense of touch, taste it with their sense of taste, and express it with a wide range of variables, such as temperature, smell, and sound.
A taste that exists only in that moment.
I believe that food is a "relay. There are people who grow the vegetables, people who catch the fish, and people who act as wholesalers.……As a chef I am in the middle of that relay. I must be able to explain those things clearly in order to bring the food to the customer's mouth.
For example, "Ms. Hayashi (a feisty woman), a fishmonger on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki, applies the undersea blood-letting and nerve-clamping treatment to tinned cod. The rather large-shaped fish can be aged for a long time by this process.
Beyond the deliciousness
When I became a "chef," a position in which I had to think about cooking, I could only create dishes based on my own experiences, and so I would somehow arrange dishes that I had made before.
However, while "deliciousness" is a given, I have come to feel that the most important thing is the "other side of deliciousness" as I meet with various people. That is what I would like to pursue further.In doing so, it becomes something unique toRestaurant L’aube.
For example, a dish has a story about its creator and how he or she was inspired to create it. If it is linked to the elements of the dish, the dots are connected. The interconnected dots create a new story.
By communicating this, the customer is convinced when he or she puts the food in his or her mouth. The feeling of "it tastes good" is combined with "I see" and "I see. It is a feeling that fills the brain at the same time as the emotion. No matter which restaurant you go to, the food is always delicious. I think that if there is some logical element to it, the food shines. I feel that when I eat the food myself.
It depends from time to time, but in my case, I might get an idea from "what I want to eat".
In addition, desserts, unlike typical sweets or snacks, serve to conclude the course. If the customer's reaction suggests that the course meal is too heavy, we may lighten the dessert, or if, on the contrary, we hear the customer say that he or she is "hungry" even though he or she has finished the entire meal, we may adjust the seasoning or sugar content. We reflect this in real time by observing the customer's reaction.
Cuisine guided by the vessel
The "rich earth" grows nourishing vegetables. The word "salad" comes from the Latin word meaning "to salt. The bowl was created with the image of ripples in the ocean, evoking the "mineral-rich earth" and "salt" brought to us by Mother Sea.
───Where do you two get your ideas and sources of expression?
In this bowl, there was a flat area on the edge that I am sure they would want me to put it on here. When I envisioned the placement of each of them, "so that the sauce would mix according to the shape of the ripples," I thought to myself, "Oh, these are vegetables." That was already the moment I held it in my hand.
When I first purchased secca's Landscape dishes, I encountered an experience that I thought was possible only with these vessels. There are many circular shapes in the vessel, each with a different height. There, ideas are born that would not come to mind with ordinary flat vessels.
It is completely different from the desserts we used to make at the restaurant. The dishes that can only be made with this type of container are born.
Because there are so few parts to put on the plate, the dish must necessarily be divided into smaller portions. When dividing the food, we try to change the texture and flavor slightly. This is where a variety of approaches are born. For example, when I made a dessert with a fragrance related to trees, it was like taking a walk in the forest, including the transition of time.
In addition, Landscape vessels have the characteristic of "non-slip" material. Its matte texture can be used to serve moist fruits such as peaches and pears in a three-dimensional arrangement. Even if peaches, which tend to slide easily, are placed at the bottom, they can be decorated as if they were stacked on top of each other. This is an expression that can only be achieved with this vessel.
I associated the wavy shape of the Amezaiku with the shape of the bowl, which is full of water, and this would create a good harmony. The unevenness of the surface and the thin Amezaiku work create a resonance like a ripple. I chose the ingredients after deciding on this dresse (arrangement). The dressage was inspired by the design of secca's dishes, and the image of dressing up an originally simple dessert by applying decorations that follow the shape of the plate. We chose bright colors to contrast with the dishes. The candy work and flowers are white to unite with the white of the vessel.
For example, it would be cool if it came out on a terrace overlooking the ocean, in a cool villa in the forest, or in a restaurant on a hilltop. After all, white and black look great in the sun, so it would be nice if the dining experience is like eating under the sun. Thinking about what kind of place or situation you would like to serve it in will expand your image. We left a large space for the ripples to be enjoyed visually. By placing the vegetables on the flat area at the edge and using cutlery to carry the vegetables and sauce together from the back to the front, the ripples function as a shape that allows the sauce to mix well with the vegetables. This is a dish where you can enjoy the design of the dish and the deliciousness of the food together.
It was an unspoken agreement between the two of us to carry secca's vessels in the store. when I saw scoop, I just became a fan. Fans are like collectors, and they want to buy different shapes of vessels, too. I thought, "Wow, this is amazing. I've never seen anything like it. I want one. What do you use it for? I don't know. But I think I can do something."
Hirase was right, and it was decided from the beginning: when we saw secca's vessels, we thought they would be the people with whom we could have a long relationship. I felt that not only in their products but also in their people, so I guess it was inevitable. I was always surprised by what they produced and wondered, "What kind of food would be best served on this dish? Many of the dishes make me think about such things. I really enjoy working with them.
〈after this of L’aube〉
───Do you have any goals or aspirations as a ristorante or a chef?
Maybe we can do it because we don't have that. If it takes shape, it will end there. All we can do is to steadily refine what we have. Beyond that, I don't know yet.
Many pastry chefs are women. I would like to create an environment where these people can work together. I want to make the restaurant a place where women can continue to work. That is my current goal.