About us

2015-08-19 15:03:00

Chef Masato Nishihara, born in 1977, started his career after graduating from high school when he knocked at the door looking for work at the famous Kitcho restaurant in the district of Arashiyama, Kyoto. There he trained for 10 years under the supervision of Teiichi Yuki, establishing his skill in the kitchen, but also learning many other complementary skills in the sphere of arts and crafts which can enhance the dining experience; flower arranging, tea ceremony and calligraphy to name a few. 
While those early years at Kitcho allowed Masato to become a competent chef, they inspired him to develop his own attitude and sensitivity towards Japanese cuisine. 
In Kyoto there are a great many distinguished craftsman each devoted to a particular field. Following their example, Masato strove to perfect the skill of making not only buckwheat ‘soba’ noodles but also pottery to be used to present his food. Furthermore Kyoto is renowned for its quality locally-grown vegetables thus enabling him to learn much from local farmers about the importance of the soil and of quality ingredients. 
From Kyoto, Masato spent 2 years working at a restaurant called Touma, in Karuizawa which specialises in soba ‘kaiseki’ or haute cuisine. There his personal flair continued to evolve; relishing the freedom of creating his own style of food in which he represented the locality’s seasons, geography and history.   
In 2009, Masato moved to New York to be the first executive chef of Kajitsu – a new restaurant specialising in Japanese vegetarian or ‘shojin’ cooking. The owner of this restaurant was also the owner of a famous shop in Kyoto called Fuka whose history stretches back over 7 generations in the artisanal production of fu – a bread-like gluten. 
In 2010 Masato was chosen as America’s Rising Star chef. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, the restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars. And in 2012 he was invited to attend Madrid Fusion – a 3-day gastronomic summit. 
One of Masato’s earliest mentor’s at Kitcho had asked him that if there would ever be a chance to work together again, he would consider it. As a result, after 3 years in New York he moved to London where his mentor was working at a Japanese restaurant called Umu. 3 years were spent there, reunited. 
Those valuable years spent abroad have significantly influenced the food that he prepares at the present time. With the journey back to Japan now complete, Masato has chosen to settle down in the oldest city of Japan – Nara. Where ancient culture and majestic natural surroundings are in complete harmony. Where the Silk Road has introduced foreign cultures from afar. The resulting culture known today is one that remains recognisably Japanese while subtly original at the same time. This is consistent with Masato’s aim for his philosophy of cooking.