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Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Yuu Shimano of MIFUNE New York

Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Yuu Shimano of MIFUNE New York

Yuu Shimano studied at the Tsuji Culinary Institute in both Osaka, Japan and Lyon, France, before securing his first kitchen position at two Michelin-starred La Villa des Lys at the Hotel Majestic in Cannes. Before coming to MIFUNE, he was in charge of main dish position at Guy Savoy's eponymous three Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris. had the pleasure of interviewing Executive Chef Yuu Shimano about his background and culinary career for our "Chef Spotlight" feature.

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

I watched my mother cook the most delicious meals from scratch every day. On special occasions like birthdays and holidays, she used to make a feast and I always looked forward to eating her special dishes.

Who were some of your career mentors?

My career mentor is Chef Hiroko (Paris, France and now located in Fukuoka, Japan). I experienced every position in the kitchen while I lived in France for eight years and also had the opportunity to work at Guy Savoy, a three star Michelin restaurant. Those eight years in France made me the chef I am today, but my encounter with Chef Hiroko in Paris was the most influential. He taught me the importance of maintaining our identity as Japanese chefs on the world's culinary stage through our dishes.

What culinary styles have influenced your career?

My culinary foundation is French cuisine. From there, as a Japanese chef, I create a modern Japanese washoku cuisine. Instead of simply incorporating traditional Japanese ingredients, I'm constantly thinking about all the subtleties of how best to use those ingredients in terms of the flavor, texture and nose. Just like Japanese cuisine is heavily influenced by the seasons, I'm also very mindful of expressing the seasons through my dishes.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

As a chef, I'm always looking for the best ingredients and to heighten my skill to best cook that ingredient on a daily basis. This way I can exceed the customer's expectations and they go home happy. In the Japanese language, there's a word called "Omotenashi." Omotenashi means "to serve your guest wholeheartedly and to go above and beyond." Knowing there are as many restaurants as there are stars in the sky, I am always grateful to our guests that they have chosen MIFUNE, and I'm very mindful of that Omotenashi spirit when I'm cooking for them.

What is your favorite meal or meals?

I enjoy dishes that feature the current season, such as asparagus in the spring and pacific saury in the fall. On New Year's Day, I always looked forward to my mother's ozoni soup, a Japanese New Year's Day soup with mochi.

Most of all, I love the classic French dishes, such as fragrant beef and fish dishes with cream based sauces. Chef Guy Savoy's dishes are some of my favorites.

Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.

Our restaurant, MIFUNE is named after Toshiro Mifune, a famed Japanese actor, who portrayed disciplined samurai warriors in films and captivated global audiences long before I was even born. As a Japanese chef in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world, I wish to do the same through my food and make our namesake proud.

Among the many long established traditional Japanese restaurants in midtown, at MIFUNE we offer modern Japanese washoku cuisine, using French techniques. We also offer traditional Japanese fare such as sushi and tempura, so our patrons have many options to choose from.

MIFUNE New York is located at 245 E. 44th Street, New York, NY 10017. For menus, more information, or to make a reservation, visit or call 212.986.2800.

Editor's Note: had the pleasure of visiting MIFUNE and experiencing Chef Shimano's extraordinary tasting menu. Stay tuned to our Food and Wine site to learn more about the restaurant.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Yuu Shimano

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