Reading an Australian travel guide when he was 12 was all the inspiration Tetsuya Wakuda needed to dream of moving to this exciting, new country. The thought of seeing the Harbour Bridge and kangaroos was enough motivation for him to spend four years working in Tokyo in numerous part-time jobs to save for his trip.
Reading an Australian travel guide when he was 12 was all the inspiration Tetsuya Wakuda needed to dream of moving to an exciting, new country. The thought of seeing the Harbour Bridge and kangaroos motivated him to spend four years working in Tokyo in numerous part-time jobs, to save for his trip.
From those humble beginnings, Tetsuya has built an empire and is godfather to many of Sydney’s most talented chefs, with over 50 restaurants touting chefs who are his former trainees. True to his Japanese heritage, Tetsuya is a modest man. He accredits his business and training success on a simple passion – he loves to eat!
“It really is that simple,” he said. It’s not a passion for cooking for Tetsuya. It is all in the end result. “The taste, the flavours, the overall eating experience is what is important,” he said. “If you can teach a chef that simple philosophy, he can develop anything to suit that palate.”
It’s the flavour on your palate that has excited so many loyal followers of this talented chef. Over the course of his career he has earned recognition, not only in Australia but also internationally, as one of the world’s great chefs, acknowledged by his peers, the media, and diners around the globe. In late 2013, he was honoured by the Japanese government as the first-ever, internationally based chef to be awarded as one of Japan’s Master of Cuisine.
His signature dish, Confit of Ocean Trout with a salad of celery, witlof and apple, is perhaps one of the most photographed food dishes in the world. And why all the fuss? What might seem so simple to Tetsuya – his passion for eating – has helped him develop a menu and style that is unique. He proudly promotes the traditions and cuisine of Japan, yet he is not afraid to experiment and blend techniques from all over the world.
He smiles fondly when he discusses his relationship with his producers. On Tetsuya’s suggestion, the fisherman who sold him Spanner Crab developed a special way of extracting the raw meat. Tetsuya said the discovery changed the way he could cook crab, without all the messiness of the shell. His friend couldn’t keep up the supply, so Tetsuya went into partnership with him and together, they bought up enough suppliers to meet the demand. This relationship is just an example of Tetsuya’s understanding of the sustainability of his restaurant. His reputation is based on the best ingredients – and he will go to any length to ensure he can source them.
Tetsuya has also opened one of the most exclusive restaurants in Singapore, with seating for just 25 Guests. His restaurant, Waku Ghin, is located in the spectacular Marina Bay Sands complex and has been awarded two Michelin stars.