Chef Tadashi Ono – Matsuri, NY

Tadashi Ono is a celebrated chef who has won plaudits for both his Japanese and French cooking in The New York Times, Gourmet, Food & Wine and other publications. Born and raised in Tokyo, Tadashi began training as a chef at the age of sixteen. Throughout his career, he has worked at restaurants such as  Le Petite Chaya, L’Orangerie and La Caravelle.

After spending 9 years as the executive chef of La Caravelle, one of America’s top French restaurants, Tadashi felt the pull of his Japanese cooking roots and opened up the fine dining restaurant Sono. In 2003 he launched Matsuri, where he introduced vibrant, modern Japanese cooking to wide acclaim. Tadashi is also the coauthor of “Japanese Hot Pots,” and “The Japanese Grill,” (Ten Speed Press). Besides cooking, Tadashi is an accomplished potter and avid student of Japanese food culture. He considers the legendary Japanese chef, ceramicist and author Rosanjin his mentor and inspiration.

As a good friend of ours, we are delighted to share our short interview with Tadashi-san!

Tadashi-san’s knives

What’s your favorite knife and why?

Sashimi knife (yanagi), I have 33cm stain resistant high carbon steel knife. It is beautiful to look at; it looks like a Katana (sword). It’s got great balance; the single blade is perfect for precise slicing. If you get used to it you can also use it in many different ways too.

What was your first knife and why?

Gyu-tou 30cm (all purpose), (sugimoto high carbon). I start my cooking work in a westernized Japanese restaurant in Tokyo and they tend to like this maker (the chef of the restaurant told me to buy it). This knife can be used as a “chef knife” and you can also use it for cutting vegetables, and slicing meat/fish.

What’s your favorite restaurant (not the one you work at) and why?

Omen in Soho, show casing authentic Kyoto cuisine but not Kaiseki. They are homey, cozy and heart warming. The food is always high quality but not too showy. It is consistent, too. No wonder they have been there for 30 years.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare for yourself and why?

Japanese hot pots in winter and Japanese grilling in summer. They are the soul food of Japan. A one-pot hot pot meal is easy, healthy and delicious. It has great nutritional balance and nothing goes to waste. It’s a great way to get family and friends together. Outdoor BBQ is my favorite meal in the summer. It is fun, delicious and a great way to get family together.

What’s next?

I’m working with my co-author Harris Salat for our third cooking book call “Japanese Soul”. It is about the comfort food of Japan. It will be published in fall 2012. I’m also trying to put together a Japanese beer garden (hall) in Brooklyn.