In the history of exclusive Japanese-style restaurant chain Nadaman, established in 1830, Nobutoshi Kiura is the first chef not from the founding family to become its president.
"I hope this will be an opportunity to cast a spotlight on cooks," he said.
Until he assumed the presidency on Jan. 20, Kiura, 66, served as the restaurant's master chef, and had been awarded for his outstanding skills as a master craftsman by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Following traditional Japanese cooking methods, he invented new fusion dishes such as chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with goose liver and sukiyaki rolls, which are highly regarded.
A native of Makurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kiura liked fishing and by middle school had already started to cut fish with his own kitchen knives such as deba and yanagiba knives.
His family loved the sashimi he prepared by thinly slicing fish. After graduating from middle school, he became a hotel employee, and the hotel's chief chef urged him to pursue a career in Japanese cooking.
Looking back at that time, he said, "The mentoring relationship was strict, and I didn't like the job."
However, having heard that an old classmate had advanced to university, Kiura was inspired to be a first-class chef. Kiura developed his skills and when training at his Japanese restaurant in Kyoto, would arrive before anyone else in the morning.
He entered Nadaman at the age of 29. Older colleagues trusted his philosophy that dishes cannot be prepared by only one person, an approach that resulted in his promotion to the presidency.
Although he has put his cooking career on hold for the time being, Kiura shares his passion for forward-looking Japanese food with about 600 cooks in the company.