Ichiro Kubota
Kyoto, Japan

Ichiro Kobuta thanks his father, a top Kyoto chef whom he calls his master, for instilling him with culinary values—though he didn’t always listen. “My father said, ‘Never eat a hamburger. Your palate will be destroyed,’ he recalls. “When I finished elementary school, I invited my brother, nicked some money from my mother’s purse, and we went to McDonald’s. It was amazing.” Fortunately, Ichiro’s palate survived the assault, and he went on to work in some of Kyoto’s best kaiseki restaurants before leaving for France, where the restaurateur Marlon Abela discovered and hired him to head up the kitchen at his new London venture, Umu. Opened in 2004, it was the city’s first Kyoto-style table. To make it authentic, Kubota flew wild fish and vegetables in from Japan, and imported water from the island of Kyushu. He picked up a Michelin star after only five months.

Share on Pinterest