• August 7 2015

The empire of taste

Presenting chef Katsu Hanamure

The Consultant Chef of the “Sea You Up” restaurant, Katsuhiko Hanamure (Katsu), was born in the Japanese city of Kaseda, where he became enamoured with cooking, but his career took off when he moved with his family to the United States. Brought up within the world of meals and dining, assisting initially in the kitchen of the family baker` s shop, he began his “western” cookery career as a teenager, at the former “Otani Hotel and Garden” in Los Angeles, under the guidance of Japanese Master Chef Saga; and following that, at “The Commodore Perry”, gaining knowledge of French cuisine, beside the chef Willie Miller. However, his exceptional talent was manifested mainly through his collaboration with the renowned chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa of the “Nobu” and “Matsuhisa” restaurants.

He detected in Katsu something special and decided to take him under his wing and instruct him. Thus, Katsu was employed at many “Matsuhisa” and “Nobu” restaurants and has been Executive Chef at “Matsuhisa Athens”, “Matsuhisa Mykonos”, as well as the “Nobu” at Badrutt’ s Palace, St. Moritz. He is also well-known for his participation in top-level gastronomy events that are held for important bodies such as the Audrey Hepburn Foundation, the Cartier Foundation and the Red Cross, while he has also supervised private parties for Hollywood celebrities. At “Sea You Up” Katsu procures for his kitchen fresh ingredients and raw materials from the immediate locality. Now established at Sani, he is enthusiastic about being part of our country` s restaurant scene.

Warm and approachable, cosmopolitan and affable, he is open to cultural interaction and eager to talk about the gastronomic tradition of his country and his part in its evolution. He recounts his beginnings in Kagoshima, in the south-western part of the Japanese island of Kyushu, in a city called the “Naples of Asia”, because of its warm climate and its location within a bay formed out of the caldera of the Sakurajima volcano. It is there, that, at the age of 19, he was first taught the secrets of traditional Japanese cuisine. We ask him if what they say is true concerning the “itamae”, namely, that the training of a chef takes very many years and it requires even more for one to be granted the title of sushi chef. He replies with a smile and irresistible unaffectedness: “Twenty years. That which makes the Japanese so hesitant to regard themselves as chefs is the absolute awareness they have that dining, apart from the fundamental survival need it satisfies, is also our means of being directly linked with nature at a spiritual level. Food is energy, and, as energy, it is transferred to the body as well as to our soul. On numerous occasions, when diners come and taste my cuisine, I am able to discern from their faces whether the specific food has satisfied them or not, what should ensue for the achievement of a crescendo, and how they should conclude their meal or dinner”.