Yuko Kajino is the Executive Chef at CHAYA Brasserie in San Francisco. Find out what he likes to prepare for his friends and family and what he’d be doing if he wasn’t a chef.
1. What is your favorite meal of the day to prepare for friends and family, and how might a sample menu look?
Pork Shabu-Shabu is a dish that I really enjoy preparing and eating together with my family or friends. It is the perfect dish because it allows for everyone to participate as we are sitting around the table cooking together out of one large clay pot. Served with homemade Ponzu and sesame sauce—it’s perfect. Everybody cooking their own meat, saying Shabu-Shabu! Dishes that I like to serve along with Shabu-Shabu are Kimuchi-Miso Soup and simple seasonal salad.
2. What is your favorite type of Sake?
I don’t usually drink Sake but I would say Junmai Daiginjo, Nipon no Tubasa (wing of Japan) because I like the expressive & soft flavor.
3. Wikipedia defines a brasserie as “a type of French restaurant with a relaxed, upscale setting, which serves single dishes and other meals.” How well do you think that describes CHAYA?
I think CHAYA Brasserie blends the best of both Japanese hospitality and service within a relaxed and friendly setting and simple dishes but good food. It is Euro cuisine inspired with Asian influence. A current item I have on the menu “Slow cooked Bone in Short Rib with Eight Grains Parmesan Risotto” — with this dish my inspiration is French classic beef Bourguignon but instead of red wine I use Asian soy flavor. With the risotto I also use Japanese Eight Grains instead of Arborio rice.
4. What do you consider to be one of the most memorable experiences of your culinary career thus far?
Working with an Iron Chef in Japan. He was very talented and he taught me how to make French cuisine using a lot of Japanese ingredients.
5. If you weren’t a chef, what other career path would you have followed?
I would say I would want to be an Air Force pilot.
Photo credit: Tim Kittering