Masterchef S01 ep9: Tetsuya Wakuda, Wakuda Restaurant, [Sydney]

Interview with Tetsuya Wakuda

Recipes guide us how to do it and then that little touch, just the right amount of salt even for example makes the dish. The degree of cooking each fish - cooked through, cooked just a little bit under or that sort of thing, it makes a huge difference… that is a chef. I love food, but at that point in time I never thought that this becomes my profession. And almost about year later I met the chef Tony Bilson and he basically taught me cooking but I mean French cooking. At that time I think he thought that I'm Japanese so maybe we can do some Japanese bit and pieces.


 

11.31
KM – What is Tetsuya?

11.33
People call French Japanese, some people call French Mediterranean. It is my
first name and also the restaurant here as you can see.

11.48
For some reason when I arrived at the airport May 2nd 1982 I somehow felt
good. I don't know why. It just happened to be that I went to a real-estate
agent and asked if they could help me to find a [English-language] school, but
they took me to a restaurant. George Lazoras said to me "You know when
you go to school, you have to pay school fee. Look [here at the restaurant]
they feed you, they teach you English and they pay you - how can you get a
better school!' Makes sense.

12.20
KM – Greek Logic.

12.25
I love food, but at that point in time I never thought that this becomes my
profession. And almost about year later I met the chef Tony Bilson and he
basically taught me cooking but I mean French cooking. At that time I think he
thought that I'm Japanese so maybe we can do some Japanese bit and
pieces.

12.44
KM – Did you learn how to make sushi after that?

12.45
I did learn. What makes good sushi. Selecting the rice. What kind of rice they
use? Vinegar to hold all and also all the steps are important in sushi - even the
cushioning - knowing how to shape of the rice, size of the rice

13.00
KM – and the way

13.01
And the way you cushion it, press it, right!

13.03
Also this person must have eyes for good ingredients and all these things
make a difference. Nobody can make like these "sushi-masters" so rather I
use essence of sushi to make what looks like sushi, but actually my way of
making sushi.

13.19
KM – Oh so you did your interpretation of sushi.

13.21
Yes - The first time my heart was beating like this.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

13.30
Recipes guide us how to do it and then that little touch, just the right amount of
salt even for example makes the dish. Simply grilling fish, or something like
that makes a difference. The degree of cooking each fish - cooked through,
cooked just a little bit under or that sort of thing, it makes a huge difference…
that is a chef.

14.01
KM – Do you look towards what is happening in Europe or what is happening
in America or you just looked here, and looked inside.

14.04
Just here. They taught me absolute great technique, skill and they also taught
me how to run the restaurant. That is something I learned.

14.23
We had a good write up, by a gentleman named Michael Gardner he was
writing for the Sunday Herald and boom …I don't know why, but everyone
came and since then I never looked back.

14.54
Many years ago I used to be a customer here [Suntory Restaurant] and
thought it would be nice for my own restaurant.

14.59
KM – How many people do you sit here?

15.01
One hundred.

15.02
KM – Only 100?

15.03
Yes.

15.03
KM – And you work seven days?

15.04
No, seven shifts - 2 lunches, 5 dinners and I am fully booked. We could do
1000 people every day if I wanted to.

15.12
KM – I mean the only other one I can relate to is Nobu which has done very
well internationally - like what you are doing here.

15.17
Yes, he is my dear personal friend.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

15.24
KM – How do you tackle designing food, creating food, creating your food?

15.29
Our food is basically this, Best of best ingredients, I source for I travel - even
like example our signature is Ocean Trout. Originally in Australia it was a by-
product. When salmon was introduced about 16 years ago , at that time
supply was a bit patchy - for two months there was no salmon. Then I
introduced ocean trout for those months. But I loved the taste of the ocean
trout more than salmon. So I went to meet the grower in Tasmania and I
asked them to grow ocean trout for me. Originally they thought it was an insult
because they were salmon grower not ocean trout grower. But I convinced
them and now they love ocean trout - so now they do more ocean trout than
salmon.

16.22
It’s all about where they are grown. It is in a wild environment in a pen in the
Macquarie harbour, which is the cleanest water on the earth now, and brackish
water [half saltwater/half freshwater]. When you are farming in the sea, when
the fish comes up to feed, often you get gill diseases so you have to give
certain antibiotic and stuff like that. But in the Macquarie harbour, the water is
so clean and also brackish - fresh water/salt water, so that makes the
difference. When the fish come up to feed it is fresh water so the water cleans
the gills - no gill disease so they don't have to give antibiotics stuff like that and
also the water is much, much richer than anywhere else and the current is very
strong. They have to swim and they do quite a lot of exercise and also they
don't put too many fish in the pen either - they don't do mass production.


Jewellery Theatre Elements

17.25
KM – They are not overfishing - overstocking!

17.26
No they don't

17.34
This one restaurant consumes 25 tonne ocean trout a year.

17.38
KM – Really?

17.39
Yes, maybe even more.

17.40
KM – What about things like the new truffles they are now finding in
Tasmania?

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

17.44
Yes, we use that as well, and also the fresh wasabi they grow in Tasmania we
use that as well.

17.51
KM – Why is Tasmania such a good place for this?

17.53
Take Wasabi for example - water is critical! There has to be water, so clean
and salt water.

18.04
This is a team. I call them my family. I don't have family here. How many
businesses give you that kind of pleasure? I do what I enjoy and people say
thank you to me. People cue up, some people wait two years to get here.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Tetsuya Wakuda, Wakuda Restaurant, [Sydney]