THE ROAD TO JAPAN

 In Stefano’s words:

Japan has been part of my future for as long as I can remember. I long dreamed of traveling to this exotic country full of wonders and honorable people.

By the age of 24, I was ready to start my journey when one day a friend asked me where I thought I was going with my poor English. He said I was just an Italian country boy and needed to learn English properly before setting out into the world. Realizing that he was right, I decided to go to London instead. My plan was to spend a couple of years studying and working there, and then fly to Japan.

Many people have the idea that England is not primary culinary destination, but London was a city full of surprises. People from all over the world were interacting in a friendly and open way, and many great chefs visited to demonstrate what cooking was all about.

Between working every morning and every evening, I could only attend English school for a few hours in the afternoon. I remember rushing from place to place through the underground, sometimes nearly knocking people over in my haste. Altogether it was a fun and remarkable experience, but it delayed my arrival in Japan by about four years. And not least, I met my wife there.

In the summer of 1999, on my third visit to Japan, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Carmine Cozzolino, who offered me the position of executive chef for the seven restaurants he was running at the time. I did this for a full four years before deciding to strike out on my own. It was a frightening but very exiting time.

As I had since my arrival in Japan lived in the Kagurazaka neighborhood, so it was just natural for me to look for a restaurant location there.  One day in November of 2003, my wife and I spotted a secluded location that apparently was of little interest to anyone else. But to us it looked perfect. I liked that it was full of light, was not too big or too small, and most of all we could afford it.

So we laid down construction plans, wrote up a menu and started looking for staff. On February 16th, 2004 we opened our doors to the public for the very first time. And despite earthquakes and an equally shaky economy, we’re still there.