New York Cooks for Tohoku, Japan – Big Chefs with Big Hearts

NY Cooks for Tohoku 

On a daily basis, my inbox is jammed with quite a number of press releases, pitches… and like most emails, there are many (not all, folks relax) that classify as spam-box worthy, and others which I don't immediately have time to get to (sorry, the truth). And then there are those, that truly make you stop, put aside the blackberry, close the facebook window and digest with 100% focus knowing that this is something that must be shared. This was one of those times. Yes, I am originally from Japan, so this may touch a part of me in a slightly personal way, but the reality is that as a human, how can it not strike a chord when you see selfless goodwill shared. I decided to share the whole press release since every detail and every person deserves to be mentioned in this post.


“Our goal is to provide some comfort, encouragement and a little something special,” explains Daniel Boulud, with the understanding of just how meaningful a special meal can be.


NY Cooks for Tohoku
Goodwill Lunch by NY Chefs in Kamaishi, Japan
July 3, 2011

On Sunday July 3rd a group of internationally renowned New York chefs led by Daniel Boulud will travel to the region of Tohoku Japan to prepare a lunch for 1,000 people in the city of Kamaishi, one of the areas most devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. While many individuals and cultural organizations have cancelled their trips to Japan, these chefs are making the journey to show their support. The New York chefs, including David Bouley, Floyd Cardoz, Craig Koketsu, Tadashi Ono, François Payard, Michael Romano and Bill Telepan, as well as Tokyo based Patrice Martineau, are preparing the lunch over the American Independence Day weekend to express their admiration and gratitude for the important contribution Japanese cuisine makes to the world’s culinary culture. In addition, preparing the lunch almost exclusively with high quality Japanese ingredients will send an important message regarding food safety in Japan. “As chefs, we believe the best way we can assist these noble people is by going to cook for them in person, offering this lunch as a gesture of comfort and good will,” explains Daniel Boulud.

The project first arose out of a conversation between Daniel Boulud and Ernie Thrasher, of Xcoal Energy & Resources, in New York in mid-May. “Although monetary contributions are extremely helpful to the recovery effort, we wanted to provide something on a direct, personal basis that would provide a sense of community and social life to the refugees in the affected area,” explains Mr. Thrasher. His business contacts in Japan have made him acutely aware of the human tragedy and suffering caused by the earthquake and tsunami. Nippon Steel Corporation, Mr. Thrasher’s longtime business partner, also joined them and helped develop a plan for the best way to show support in Kamaishi, where Nippon Steel has longstanding ties to the community. Xcoal is sponsoring the costs of the event and providing aircraft to ensure the team of chefs can travel to and from the USA and also internally to the affected area in Japan in a timely and efficient manner. Additional support is being provided on a volunteer basis in Japan by young staff from the Nippon Steel Corporation Groups. They will take part specifically as interpreters, assisting with communications between the New York chefs and the evacuees they will serve. Additional much needed local volunteers are to include the Kamaishi Seawaves, the town’s rugby team.
The New York based Chefs and Ernie Thrasher will depart for Tokyo on Wednesday, June 29. The Chefs will spend Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2 doing advance culinary preparations in Tokyo. Early on the morning of Sunday, July 3, the chefs and the food they have prepared with fine Japanese ingredients, will travel to Kamaishi and then on to the local community facility where they will serve a lunch to 1,000 people. Each of the visiting chefs will personally serve his own signature dish, food that they believe will offer the simple pleasure of a good meal. For example, Chef Daniel Boulud’s tender braised beef is intended as a soul satisfying, Western style comfort food, and a dish that will appeal to the Japanese lunch guests. The menu may also include specialties such as Chef Tadashi Ono’s chilled seaweed soup with sea scallop and sea urchin; Chef Bill Telepan’s miso stir fry vegetables with grilled Kuruma shrimp and seared tuna; and Pastry Chef François Payard’s rolled chocolate cake with chocolate tofu pudding, matcha green tea macarons, black sesame macarons and milk chocolate yuzu macarons – to name but a few.
While Xcoal’s corporate sponsorship has served as the foundation for the endeavor, the expertise, time, energy and resources of a few key individuals and companies are proving invaluable. Ingredients and equipment for the meal are being coordinated locally by Patrice Martineau, a former Chef de cuisine at DANIEL in New York, who is today Executive Chef at The Peninsula Tokyo’s PETER Restaurant. The Peninsula Tokyo is providing accommodations for the visiting chefs, while the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay is generously providing kitchens for them to prepare in.
Hilary Tolman, formerly Boulud’s assistant now based in Tokyo, and Taeko Takigami, President of Comculture, Inc. and a New York based culinary expert, have volunteered spending countless hours on meticulous coordination in both US and Japan. Both will accompany the chefs to assist them in Tokyo and Kamaishi.
“Our goal is to provide some comfort, encouragement and a little something special,” explains Daniel Boulud, with the understanding of just how meaningful a special meal can be.
Thanks to additional support provided by the Consulate General of Japan, the Chefs met at the consulate’s New York office on the morning of Tuesday, June 14 to plan this international gesture of culinary goodwill. The July 3rd lunch menu and a list of some of the Japanese ingredients the chefs will cook with will be available on July 2nd.


Daniel Boulud, a native of Lyon, France, is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. In New York City the chef offers Bar Boulud, Café Boulud, db Bistro Moderne, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Boulud Sud, and Épicerie Boulud in addition to DANIEL, the renowned three Michelin star Relais & Châteaux member. You’ll also find his uniquely ingredient driven seasonal French-American cooking in Miami and Palm Beach, FL and internationally in London, Singapore and Beijing. Boulud is the recipient of three James Beard Foundation awards, including Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurateur and was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government as well as “Chef of the Year 2011 by The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of six cookbooks and the creator and host of the television series, After Hours with Daniel. The Chef has served on the board of Directors of Citymeals-on-Wheels since 2000.
David BOULEY, Bouley, Brushstroke

Born and raised near Storrs, Connecticut David Bouley was influenced early on by life on his grandparents' farm. He was imbued with their French heritage, a love of the land and appreciation for fresh products. David studied at the Sorbonne and worked with acclaimed European chefs, including Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon, Gaston Lenôtre, and Frédy Girardet.  He returned to New York, working in the leading restaurants at the time – Le Cirque, Le Périgord, and La Côte Basque. In 1985, he became chef of Montrachet restaurant and in 1987 opened his own restaurant, Bouley, in TriBeCa. Bouley quickly became known for offering the most notable dining experience in New York.  His accolades include a four-star review in The New York Times and James Beard Foundation awards for best restaurant and best chef. In 1997, Bouley Bakery opened as a wholesale and retail bakery as well as a café and restaurant, earning another four-star review in The New York Times.  In September 1999, David opened Danube, a Viennese-inspired restaurant. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Bouley Bakery served as a base of operations preparing over one million meals for Ground Zero relief workers in conjunction with the Red Cross.  It re-opened as Bouley Restaurant in 2002, with Bouley Bakery and Market opening in a new TriBeCa location. David's newest venture, Brushstroke Restaurant, is a collaboration with the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Japan and is housed in the former Danube space.
Floyd CARDOZ, North End Grill opening fall 2011

Floyd Cardoz is the Executive Chef of North End Grill, the forthcoming restaurant from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group. Located in Manhattan's Battery Park City, North End Grill will be a neighborhood gathering place for BPC residents and downtown communities, including the financial district. The menu will feature Chef Floyd’s seasonal dishes with an emphasis on seafood. Previously Floyd was executive chef of Tabla, a groundbreaking restaurant serving New Indian cuisine cooked with the sensual flavors and spices of his native land. With Floyd at the helm, Tabla received numerous accolades including a three star review from The New York Times. The restaurant also spawned an entirely new category of modern Indian restaurants across the country and internationally. After 12 incredibly rewarding years, Tabla closed its doors in December 2010. Floyd began his career in his native Bombay, where he attended culinary school and interned in the kitchen of the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel. To further his classic culinary technique, Floyd moved to Switzerland, to attend the hotel management and culinary school, Les Roches. In New York he worked under Chef Gary Kunz of the venerable Lespinasse for seven years, rising from Chef de Partie to Executive Sous Chef.  In 2006, Floyd wrote his first cookbook, One Spice, Two Spice (Clarkson Potter). In 2009, he launched a line of meals for online grocer Fresh Direct. He is also the consulting chef for El Verano Taqueria located at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.  Actively engaged in the community beyond the walls of his restaurants, Floyd received the "Humanitarian Award of the Year Award" from Share Our Strength in 2007. In 2011, Floyd received the title of Top Chef on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters series, winning the grand prize of $100,000 for his designated charity of choice, the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Craig KOKETSU, Park Avenue Spring

Craig Koketsu is the Chef/Partner of Fourth Wall Restaurants in New York City. The group is comprised of upscale restaurants including the flagship Smith & Wollensky location, Maloney & Porcelli, The Post House, Quality Meats, Park Avenue, and The Hurricane Club. Chef Koketsu began his culinary career in California after graduating from U.C. Berkeley. He served as the private events chef at Stars Palo Alto under Jeremiah Tower and Joyce Goldstein before moving to New York City to work at Lespinasse under Gray Kunz. When Christian Delouvrier took over as executive chef of Lespinasse, Chef Koketsu remained with the restaurant, ultimately becoming Delouvrier's second-in-command as chef de cuisine. He opened Quality Meats in 2006 and then opened Park Avenue, which was named among the top best new restaurants of 2007 by the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the New York Observer. New York Magazine also named Chef Koketsu among New York's top up-and-coming chefs. The Hurricane Club is his latest
Patrice MARTINEAU, Peter, The Peninsula Tokyo

French born Patrice Martineau is the Chef of Peter, the Peninsula Tokyo's gastronomic restaurant. He joined the hotel group in 2007 and has been involved with the Peninsula Tokyo since it's opening. Before moving to Japan, Patrice was the youngest Executive Chef in the history of London's legendary Savoy Hotel and, prior to that, spent six years at New York's three Michelin star Daniel, with three of those years as Chef de Cuisine. Patrice's career also encompasses stints at other world-renowned Michelin star rated restaurants such as l'Abbaye Saint Michel and La Cote Saint Jacques. Patrice holds a Masters in the Culinary Arts.  His classic French style has evolved during the course of his international experiences and  combines a deep understanding of what a discerning fine dining clientele desires with a fresh personal take on modern gastronomic cuisine.
Tadashi ONO, Matsuri

Tadashi Ono is a celebrated chef who has won plaudits for both his Japanese and French cooking in The New York Times, Gourmet, Food & Wine and other publications. Born and raised in Tokyo, Tadashi began training as a chef at the age of sixteen. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980’s, cooking at the innovative French-Japanese fusion restaurant Le Petite Chaya and the legendary L'Orangerie. Relocating to New York, he became the executive chef of La Caravelle, one of America's top French restaurants. After nine years there, Tadashi felt the pull of his Japanese cooking roots and opened the fine dining restaurant Sono. In 2003 he launched Matsuri, where he introduced vibrant, modern Japanese cooking to wide acclaim. Tadashi is also the coauthor of "Japanese Hot Pots," (Ten Speed Press) a cookbook about Japan's beloved comfort food, which was published in September 2009.Tadashi is also an accomplished potter and avid student of Japanese food culture. He considers the legendary Japanese chef, ceramicist and author Rosanjin his mentor and
Francois Payard, Francois Payard Bakery

A third generation French pastry chef and cookbook author, Francois Payard is known for his mastery of the pastry arts. In addition to working in some of France’s finest Michelin-starred kitchens including La Tour d’Argent and Lucas Carton, Francois served as Pastry Chef of Le Bernardin in New York City before joining Chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of Restaurant Daniel. In 1995, the James Beard Foundation named Francois Pastry Chef of the Year. In 1997, his childhood dream of opening his own restaurant became a reality. Branches of Payard opened in New York, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Japan and Korea. Most recently, in New York he opened Francois Payard Bakery and also FC Chocolate Bar at the Plaza Hotel.

Michael Romano is Chef-Partner of Union Square Cafe. He joined Union Square Cafe as Executive Chef in 1988, and six months later The New York Times elevated the restaurant to three stars. Since then, Michael has earned numerous accolades, including James Beard awards for “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America” and “Best Chef New York”, as well as Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef in America”. Under his leadership, USC received the #1 ranking on the Zagat Most Popular list an unprecedented nine times. Michael has co-authored two cookbooks with Danny Meyer, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook and Second Helpings (both HarperCollins). In addition to his role at Union Square Cafe, Michael is President of Culinary Development for Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in NYC: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino, Untitled at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient. In addition to being responsible for the development of culinary programs and kitchen design across all of USHG, he continues to collaborate closely with Union Square Cafe’s Executive Chef Carmen Quagliata. Michael also helps select and serves as a mentor to USHG’s peerless team of award-winning chefs. In addition, he is directly responsible for USHG’s role in Union Square Tokyo.
Bill TELEPAN, Telepan

Chef Bill Telepan, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, apprenticed with the legendary Alain Chapel at his eponymous three-Michelin-star restaurant outside Lyons and worked under Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque, Gilbert Le Coze at Le Bernardin, and Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar and Grill. He was the executive chef of New York's Judson Grill until 2004, and in 2005 opened his own restaurant, Telepan, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "I wanted it to be a neighborhood spot, but also to excite diners with food that was beyond the ordinary," he says. The neighborhood has embraced the restaurant, and in 2007 it was voted "Best Newcomer" in the New York City Zagat Survey.



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