My food is inspired by the universe

HARMONIOUS DISH: Chef Hajime Yoneda's signature dish, chikyu (the earth), incorporates 110 kinds of vegetables, grains and herbs. It is inspired by the balance, harmony and mystique of the universe.


    Oct 31, 2013

    My food is inspired by the universe

    Japanese chef Hajime Yoneda's Osaka-based restaurant, Hajime - which opened in 2008 - holds the record of being the fastest restaurant in history to garner the ranking of a three-star Michelin restaurant in 2010.

    The 41-year-old chef, who worked as a computer engineer to put himself through culinary school, is known for presenting his unique world views through culinary dishes, such as his signature vegetable dish, chikyu - or "the earth" - which is a representation of the planet and its elements.

    My Paper recently spoke to chef Yoneda, who is one of the guest chefs at this year's Asian Masters event.


    Why do you choose to present your world views through food?


    I realised that cuisine could be an art form for me to express myself.

    Good food is like a good picture painted by a good painter, or a beautiful song sung by a good singer.

    There is such a (creative) element in gastronomy and I decided to adopt it as a way to express my world views.


    You studied painting and even held a couple of exhibitions in France. Why did you choose to pursue your career as a chef instead?


    When I was in France, I met an artist and became his assistant.

    When I did a painting in his atelier, he was so surprised with my picture. I then had a chance to be featured on newspapers and radio programmes.

    However, the purpose of my stay in France was to learn cooking. I thought that if I was going to devote my whole life to something, I should be a chef instead of a painter.


    What inspires your culinary dishes?


    I am interested in the balance, harmony, mystique and spirituality that exist in the universe.

    After the Big Bang, the earth was born in the universe and life was born on earth. Human beings were born and evolved.

    People exist based on a miraculous balance. I feel the mystique of the universe in gastronomy.


    What can diners expect from you at the Asian Masters?


    First of all, I want to make the dish chikyu. This dish represents the earth. It is not my dish, but the dish of people living on this planet.

    I really want to try this in Singapore. (As for) other dishes, I am still thinking of what to make.


    Enjoy Chef Hajime Yoneda's signature dishes at Restaurant Andre from Dec 4 to 7 as part of the Asian Masters festival, which runs from tomorrow to Dec 7 at various venues. Tickets are now on sale. Visit or call 6319-1888.