No kitchen drama for chef
SEVEN different meals over seven days.
That was the challenge which Singapore-based Japanese chef Sho Naganuma faced while filming his show, One Night In Langkawi: Sho Naganuma.
The 33-year-old head chef of the Hide Yamamoto restaurant at Marina Bay Sands had to whip up dinner for as many as 400 guests invited by BMW for the launch of the 7-series sedan.
Besides having to import 10kg of Wagyu beef from Singapore and 5kg of tuna from Japan to the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi, Malaysia, Mr Naganuma had to deal with other logistic issues.
Sending the dishes to the tables took 15 minutes via golf buggy, and about 20 per cent of the ingredients were not available.
"Every time I called the hotel, they would tell me they did not have this fish or that sauce. I had to change a lot of the ingredients," Mr Naganuma said, adding that this was why he took more than a month to finalise the menus.
"I like drama in my life, not in my kitchen!" he exclaimed.
What is a television programme without a bit of drama?
But Mr Naganuma, who had already starred in another show, Great Dinners Of The World, was not someone who would buckle under pressure.
When asked why he undertook the Langkawi project, he shrugged and said: "I like the challenge."
Cooking up gastronomical feasts aside, Mr Naganuma is a yummy specimen himself.
However, he does not give any thought to his good looks. When asked why some Japanese chefs, such as himself, are quite the lookers, he blushed and looked flustered.
All he could say was: "I don't know."
Mr Naganuma's love affair with food began at the age of six, when his father taught him how to make traditional Japanese dishes.
When he was 19 years old, his father sent him to the United States as he was quite rebellious then, and kept getting into trouble.
He spent 10 years honing his craft in the US. In 2002, he met world-renowned chef Hide Yamamoto, who would later become his mentor.
"When I first met Mr Yamamoto, I was just a sushi chef. He gave me more chances to cook in the kitchen. I picked up many of my (kitchen) skills from him.
"Mr Yamamoto really shaped my thoughts on how I think about food, from cooking to serving it."
Mr Naganuma's customers know him to be a dedicated chef, and he said he was "very strict in the kitchen", something he picked up from Mr Yamamoto.
"He is like my father," Mr Naganuma said.
In fact, the two have such a strong relationship that the younger man followed his mentor here to set up the Hide Yamamoto restaurant.
When asked if he has any plans to open a restaurant under his own name, Mr Naganuma, who has been here for three years, said: "I don't think it's going to happen any time soon, and I'm fine with it."
One Night In Langkawi: Sho Naganuma premieres today at 10pm on the Asian Food Channel (StarHub Ch 435).