They grow the vegetables and herbs of the day in their own vegetable gardens, exploring their individuality and changes to deepen their own cuisine. Many chefs around the world have now adopted this approach, giving us a taste of their creations with the dynamic of life. It's a wonderful thing. Michel Bras is one of the pioneers who has been practising it for nearly half a century and is still a great inspiration to the world's culinary community, foodies and people aiming for quality, natural well being.
Masaya Toyoshima, who has a restaurant in the Kawaguchiko area, one of the Fuji Five Lakes, also known as Japan's Lake District and winner of the Gault et Millau Yamanashi in 2021, is a chef known for his vegetable garden and honey collection box in front of his house. What is unique about him is that he does not stop at his own vegetable garden, but lives with the entire environment of Lake Kawaguchi from moment to moment, thinking about his cuisine and serving it to his guests.
He walks in the mountains, watching for deer tracks, collecting birch sap and various wild plants and vegetables. Wild vegetables and flowers grow slightly differently every year, and if the time of year changes slightly, the location changes and of course the taste changes. The environment around Lake Kawaguchi, which reflects the shadow of Mount Fuji on the lake's surface, changes every few days, and naturally the ingredients, the decision to collect them and the cooking itself change sensitively.
Before going into the kitchen, Toyoshima goes into the mountains every day to enjoy these changes and condenses the results into dialogue with the customers and the dishes he serves. The small number of people in the kitchen makes this operation possible, but it also allows him to create his own unique world in a spectacular way.
He apprenticed himself to a hunter who brought him an amazingly clean gibier to learn how to kill it and post-process it, and even then he researched cooking methods that make the most of the individual differences between certain animals, offering a taste that could be described as paradoxical: 'delicate wild taste'. Chef Toyoshima currently has a restaurant near Kawaguchiko station, but he plans to move his restaurant to a more secluded location in the heart of nature in the near future, where he will use wood for all cooking fires in the kitchen. He is a man who seeks out the uncontrollable and sublimates it into a subtle finish. The unique gastronomy experience will be further enhanced and gently refined.