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TETSUYA WAKUDA


“Ten or 15 years ago, I did not enjoy the countryside as much. I preferred Middle Tokyo or Osaka. Now, even just a little village, I really enjoy that”


government has bestowed on him the Medal of the Order of Australia – he’s the only Japanese to hold the honour – for the development of Australian cuisine as chef, restaurateur and author; and for his contribution to vocational training and charity work.


Old friends Wakuda though is unfazed by the recognition. “I just cook,” he says. “I’m lucky people like the way it tastes.” Wakuda retains an insatiable curiosity


for food. Good ingredients inspire him, so do his fellow chefs. He is close friends with culinary greats such as Ferran Adrià and Alain Ducasse. He considers Charlie Trotter’s 20th anniversary two years ago as one of his most unforgettable moments in the kitchen – cooking with Trotter, Ferran Adrià, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal and Daniel Boulud was, he says, exciting. Adrià calls Wakuda his brother.


When Adrià came to Singapore three years ago for an event, the organisers


were caught by surprise by the Spanish chef’s unplanned detour. “Ferran was only supposed to come for one night. But he came straight to us. He told them, ‘I have to see my brother,’” Wakuda says. “Ferran is one of my oldest friends. I went to his kitchen when no one even knew elBulli.” So what’s next for Wakuda? “Get married and have a family,” he says, laughing. “I’d like to give more opportunities to the chefs working under me.” Would he consider opening a restaurant in Japan? “In my old age, maybe, as a hobby – a small restaurant for eight to 10 people, where I can cook by myself. I don’t know, but I want somewhere in the countryside. Ten or 15 years ago, I did not enjoy the countryside as much. I preferred Middle Tokyo or Osaka. Now, even just a little village, I really enjoy that.” Whatever Wakuda chooses to pursue, with his single-minded focus, he is sure to succeed.


Waku Ghin’s bar area; sauté bamboo clam with garlic cream


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