Asia’s Rising Star – Florilege

Positioned at No.14 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, Florilège is certainly one to watch as a rising star of the region. The One To Watch Award for Asia 2016 was also awarded for the first time to Florilège, to a restaurant outside the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We catch up with Chef Hiroyasu Kawate, chef-owner of Florilège to find out about his thoughts on winning and aspirations for the future.

What are your thoughts on winning at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017?

I am honoured to receive such an award. Florilège is garnering attention around the world, which is tough, but ultimately worthwhile and fulfilling.

Sustainability is a huge theme at your restaurant. Tell us more about your views and how you intend to spread this philosophy.

We have two words in Japanese: “MOTTAINAI” and “ITADAKIMASU”. MOTTAINAI means that’s a waste or “What a waste!” ITADAKIMASU means “I will take this food to show thanks to the people who cook it”. I think both of these Japanese words come from the sense that we want to show thanks to all living things used in our food.

Even though we have such nice words in Japan, most Japanese don’t understand their meaning any more. Japan is the country with the most food waste in the world. This is such a pity and I feel responsibility for this problem.

In order to wake Japanese up to reality, I am trying to do some pop-up events and to join in at global gastronomic gatherings. This is very important to me so I can speak out about the food waste problem. Chefs, students, scientists and producers can all work together to work out this problem.

We serve our signature dish “Beef Carpaccio” using cows that have already calved five or six times, which is not common in Japan. We also serve soup containing vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. When we serve those dishes at Florilège, we’re sending a message to people to recognise the problems in Japan. Understanding what is really happening and making an effort to solve this issue is very important not only in Japan but also around the world.

You have worked with many great chefs, can you tell us who has been your greatest inspiration so far?

All the chefs I’ve worked with are respectable and wonderful! They cook dishes with creativity and originality. Especially among them, Chef André Chiang, who I respect very much. What he has been doing for sustainability and trying to make Asian chefs all part of one big team has really impressed me. Chef Gaggan Anand is also trying to make us together as a one big family. He is one of the chefs I most respect in the world.

What are your aspirations for Florilège in the near future? Do you intend to expand or start a new restaurant perhaps?

No. I am not thinking of having any more restaurants in Japan. However, I am planning to do something in Taiwan, which is one of my favourite countries.

What is your favourite country in the world to visit & why?

Taiwan, Korea and Belgium are my favourite countries. The reason is, of course, I have some of my best chef friends in those countries. They are all in the same age group and respectable chefs; on the other hand, they are good rivals as well. In Taiwan, there’s Raw; in Korea, Mingles; in Belgium, Hertog Jan.

In my opinion, there are many reasons to visit these countries, including their culture, nature and historical architecture.