The Chef: Tomotaka Ishizuka
Tomotaka Ishizuka is an award-winning chef whose mastery of the Japanese haute cuisine known as Kaiseki makes him one of the most distinguished and exciting voices on the Australian culinary scene. With a stellar career that has included senior positions at leading establishments in both Japan and Australia, Tomotaka’s eponymous restaurant is the culmination of his rigorous training and experience, and a testament to his extraordinary passion.
Tomotaka began his career at a restaurant in Tokyo, where he rose to the position of head chef. Tomotaka returned to Kanazawa, Japan, to learn the art of Kaiseki – specialising in a style known as Kaga Kaiseki. As a senior chef, Tomotaka delved into the rich history of this ancient culinary tradition, which derives from the tea ceremonies of Zen Buddhist monks, and was awarded several prizes from the local Ishikawa prefecture. Responsible for training junior chefs, Tomotaka also orchestrated several innovative programs – including wild vegetable picking and exposing his protégées to the life of a fisherman – in order to fully apprehend the qualities and authentic flavours of local Japanese ingredients.
Having developed his skills and refined his technique in Japan, Tomotaka returned to Melbourne to take on the role of Chef de Cuisine at The Crown’s flagship Japanese restaurant, KOKO. Channeling his consummate expertise, Tomotaka conceived the restaurant’s monthly menu and trained and managed the staff to ensure that every aspect of the dining experience adhered perfectly to Japanese cooking practices. During his time at KOKO, Tomotaka was awarded several prizes from within the Crown organisation and established the Australian chapter of the Association for the Advancement of the Japanese Culinary Art.
Combining perfectionism, attention to detail and a deep understanding of tradition with a zest for innovation and creative flair, Tomotaka is a true artist whose vision has been honed over years of practice. Now with his own venue, Ishizuka, Tomotaka is introducing Australian diners to the rarefied world of Kaiseki cuisine. Balancing taste and texture with expert precision and presenting each dish with extraordinary intricacy, Ishizuka’s nightly set menu reflects the chef’s longstanding vision to bring authentic Japanese flavours to Australia.