Most Japanese chefs who go to Italy stay just long enough to learn new skills before returning home. Very few stay and set up their own restaurants. Yoji Tokuyoshi not only did that, he became the first to win a Michelin star there.
The 38-year-old chef has been in Italy over a decade now. For most of that time he worked at the innovative Osteria Francescana in Modena, which recently won top place in the World's 50 Best Restaurant rankings. Last year he struck out on his own, setting up Ristorante Tokuyoshi in Milan.
Still little known in his homeland, Tokuyoshi will return this month aiming to rectify that with a series of high-profile dinners at the New Otani hotels in Osaka and Tokyo. Ahead of his visit, he spoke with The Japan Times about his own distinctive, radical take on Italian cooking, a style he calls "cucina contaminata" — "contaminated cuisine."