In 2010 I was privileged to travel to Tokyo on a stage with Seji Yamamoto.
This was a very important and incredible experience to be able to work with Seji Yamamoto and his team of very young and disciplined chefs.
The system of service in Ryugin is without doubt one of the most synchronised and customer orientated service I have ever encountered.
Within one week was able to read the order sequence on the blackboards of dishes required for service by identifying the first characters of each dish.
Out of respect to the work and entire team of Ryugin I felt it is very important for me was to get one step ahead as fast as I could in order to be ready with the required things exactly on the dot without anyone having to ask me. This is very important in general however in a japanese kitchen even more so. The level of focus and awareness as well as precision is on a very high level.
It was not always easy because you expect so much from yourself in a situation like this and your whole environment is fully charged with so much intense information and impressions.
I was in Ryugin when the weather wise quite hot. Everything effected me very strongly during the time spent in Ryugin. I am a very receptive person and every single moment working there was pouring through me intensely.
I can only thank Seji Yamamoto and Amandin aswel as Rafa for making this stage possible.
The team is divided in sections of Sashimi, soups-pickles-and rice dishes, grill section, pastry-starters and Seji Yamamoto is without fail on the pass finishing and approving of every dish that comes out of his kitchen.
The most wonderful and valuable thing I gained from working in this incredible restaurant was Seji Yamamotos optimism and playful spirit. Occasionally he will do something to just see what happens and that thing will be something completely spontaneous and not based on anything particular just like a child is filled with joy at playing and investigating.
I love this about Seji Yamamoto and fell it is a very important connection and quality to have within as a chef as it is through spontaneity, innocence, humour and curiosity that we might discover something new.
Seji Yamamoto is incredibly open to questions and very approachable but at the same time commands incredible respect and humility.
I have worked 14 years with different japanese chefs and usually will not always find such an openness to questioning and asking.
The dishes of Seji Yamamoto a never short of perfect from the product to the preparation, to the perfect cooking and timing-presentation and combination and the entire coordination and service.
Everything I tasted at Ryugin without fail tasted amazingly good.
When ever Seji Yamamoto was cooing something on the stove we all flocked to the pot before it goes into the wash to scrape it clean first enjoying every single taste.
I unfortunately did not have a camera on my stage and I felt it would have been to not respectful to just start taking pictures whilst working, so I have borough some from the internet that capture some of the spirit. These pictures show the people I was working with in the Ryugin kitchen during my stage.