Wine Portfolio
Wine Portfolio, Chef Isao Yamada
  Chef Isao Yamada, Wine Portfolio
  Chef Isao Yamada


Chef Yamada was born in Shimonoseki city in Yamaguchi prefecture, the west end of Honshu Island of Japan, and grew up in Kita-Kyushu city in Fukuoka prefecture, the north end of Kyushu Island, across Kanmon strait from Shimonoseki.

Living in both cities, Yamada was blessed with an abundance of seafood and mountain products. At age 19, Yamada encountered a book, "The Flowering Spirit of Kitcho Cuisine," by the late Tei-ichi Yuki, a founder of Kitcho restaurant of Kyoto. He was so impressed by the aesthetics of Cha-Kaiseki (Kaiseki cuisine in tea ceremonies) described in the book that he decided to quit university in order to enter the culinary world.

During the next year, he studied at the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Osaka.  When he was 21 years old, he landed a job in Kyoto where he met his first mentors, Hitoshi Ishihara, then the executive chef of Kitcho (now owner-chef of Kyoto Mizai, a Michelin 3-star restaurant) and Kunio Tokuoka (current owner-chef of Kyoto Kitcho, a Michelin 3-star.)

After training for three years in Kitcho, he followed chef Ishihara to Ryotei Hanzui-ryo, a top Japanese-style Ryokan Inn in Unzen, Nagasaki. Yamada cooked with him there for two years.

In 2000, at the age of 26, Yamada opened his own Japanese restaurant "Hana-Ei" in his home town in Fukuoka, where he had the opportunity to integrate the local Kyushu ingredients with Kyoto cuisine. The restaurant was awarded three stars by a top gourmet magazine in Fukuoka in 2005.

Yamada was then introduced to Chef David Bouley, who invited him to join his Japanese restaurant project. The prospect was so exciting that Yamada closed Hana-ei and moved to New York in late 2006 to begin working on Brushstroke. He joined Bouley Upstairs, where he met Chef Tadao Mikami who would become another mentor to him.

Chef Yamada inherits beauty of cuisine from Chef Ishihara, creativity from Chef Tokuoka, and umami (deliciousness) from Chef Mikami to meet David Bouley's high standards. Yamada was named a New York Rising Star chef by in 2009.

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