When Lyon-born French chef Christophe Paucod arrived in Japan in 1998, he came on a one-way ticket with no job prospects and no idea of what he would do.

But he had 10 years of professional experience cooking under his belt, starting at age 15, in some of the best restaurants in Normandy and Paris, and he also came with something that would turn out to be even more important — the spirit and culinary traditions of Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.

Paucod was cooking at Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris when he met, fell in love with and married his Japanese wife, who had gone to France to study at the famous culinary school Le Cordon Bleu.