Harutaka Kishi is truly a worldly chef. Born to Japanese parents and raised in France, Haru grew up enjoying the bounty of Paris’s finest farmers markets and his mother’s inspired home cooking. His talents have taken him to some of the finest kitchens, from Joël Robuchon’s Le Chateau in Tokyo to Gordon Ramsay at the Trianon Palace in Versailles. Formerly Executive Sous Chef for the Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, California, he now delights diners with award-winning Euro-Asian cuisine as Executive Chef at CHAYA Brasserie in Beverly Hills.
What are your thoughts on food and drink as aphrodisiacs?
As a chef, food plays an important part in the relations between people, in general. One of the reasons why I became a chef was because when I was a child, I so enjoyed eating with my family. But if you ask me if I eat a piece of chocolate, am I going to be all excited? I don’t think so, but it’s the experience of food and how you bring it to people that is exciting.
When you think about sexy dishes, what comes to mind?
What I feel is sexy as a chef is that you can take pretty much anything and turn it into a sexy dish. The way you dress it, the way you garnish it. It depends on who you are serving it to. If you serve it to a man or a woman, it does kind of change. With a salad, if you want to please a lady, you might put lots of color and flavors in it. That is sexy and exciting. And, it plays with your senses.
Do you have a dish or food you might recommend to diners seeking to set the mood?
If a couple is in love, they are going to enjoy everything! This year our menu theme is aphrodisiacs. I’ve done some research and we’re including things like white garlic, avocados, asparagus, and oysters. Fresh, clean foods that leave you feeling more energized. You don’t want someone to roll out of your restaurant!
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate and chocolate only. The male doesn’t do anything. It’s all the ladies buying chocolate for the person they like. I don’t know why it’s like that, because in other countries the male is taking care of his lady. So, in Japan, now they created the White Day, on March 14th, so that’s when the male is giving back to the lady.
Is there anything you think of as unsexy, ingredient-wise?