Flash-grilled: Taiji Maruyama

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with Taiji Maruyama Japanese restaurant Taka London Marylebone

Related tags: Japanese cuisine, Restaurant, Fine dining, Chef

Taiji Maruyama is executive chef at Japanese restaurant Taka, which recently opened its second London site in Marylebone.

What was your first industry job?
A commis chef at Kaiseki, Tokyo.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Nobu Matsuhisa, Okuda Tooru, Yamamoto Seiji and Yoshihiro Narisawa - I respect all of their food philosophies, and they are my biggest influences.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Unprofessionalism and laziness.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
One time a customer asked for their sashimi to be 'well-done'...

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
I adopt the Japanese philosophy 'Shun', which is the traditional concept that food should be eaten only in its proper season and only when it is at the peak of its flavour.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
All good reviews so far.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t just listen. You need to think, go out. Go to theatres and museums to see art and expand your cultural awareness.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Japanese knife.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Deep-fried Japanese chicken (karaage).

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
RyuGin in Japan.

Favourite fast food joint?
KFC, but I don't have it too often.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Marinated foie gras pate with button mushrooms in L’Astrance, Paris.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?

What’s your earliest food memory?
My mother’s chicken karaage.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I got hit by a car whilst on my bicycle.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?

Tipple of choice?

What do you consider your signature dish?
Garden salad with an aged fish like tuna, squid or salmon; or short rib with sukiyaki sauce.

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles, Chef

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