We take a quick look into the life of Kikkoman Masters 2018 finalist Andrew Kokjima.
Name: Andrew Kojima
Current Restaurant: Koj Cheltenham
Previous Restaurants: Tonkotsu Soho, Medlar Chelsea, Soushi Cirencester
Favourite Hobbies: 5 aside football, cricket, watching Gloucester rugby
Favourite Cookbook: Relae
Favourite Kitchen Gadget: cooking chopsticks!
Kikkoman Masters Dishes -
Starter: Smoked eel, potato and beetroot salad, wasabi tobiko, pickled samphire, beetroot teriyaki
Main: Roast duck breast, konbu braised potatoes, cavolo nero, shimeji, edamame, aromatic soy broth, apple and ginger compote
What is your first food memory: chocolate digestives and a ½ pint of milk at primary school
Did you grow up in a cooking family: yes, my mum cooked a lot. My grandparents ran hotels.
Who has influenced your cooking the most: my mum for teaching me and my dad for being Japanese
Why did you become a chef? I’d wanted to ever since I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential in 2001, but I actually only became a chef in 2012 after a first career in various finance jobs
Where did you train? I didn’t. I did MasterChef (Amateur) then did a lot of ‘stages’ at various restaurants to learn techniques and professional discipline. As for Japanese cooking, I’m mostly self taught, from cookery books and working as a private chef.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A chef
Who are your favourite chefs? Jiro Ono, Simon Rogan, Michel Roux Jr, Nobu
Other than your restaurant, what is your favourite restaurant? Koya Udon in Soho
What music do you enjoy cooking to: House
What was the last book you read? Ikigai
What is your favourite ingredient (apart from Kikkoman Soy Sauce) any vegetable
What do you think is the next food trend? Sea vegetables
What food is your guilty pleasure? Fast food
Is there one food you really don’t like? Liver (except pate), kidneys and tripe
Worst kitchen nightmare? Working on larder in a Michelin star restaurant I sent out a side salad which got sent back because it had a bit of spaghetti on it. I got bollocked for eating staff meal at my bench.
Most memorable meal? L’Enclume, as a treat with my wife.
Last meal on earth? Kara age and beer