Yoshi Yamada, head chef at Tempo restaurant and bar in Mayfair, London, was one of only two UK chefs to receive the Italian Culinary Master Chef Award from the prestigious Academia Barilla. He spoke to Janie Stamford about the honour
Congratulations on the award. How does it feel? I feel extremely honoured. Cooking authentic Italian food is my passion and it is a real pleasure to have been recognised by such a respected organisation.
It was also amazing to be honoured alongside Angela Hartnett who is one of the country's most respected and successful chefs. The fact that we are the only two chefs from the UK to receive the award makes it very special.
As a Japanese chef, what drew to you to Italian cuisine? You may not realise it, but Italian food is hugely popular in Japan. I have been interested in this style of cuisine since I was very young and later I worked nights at Tokyo's Basta Pasta to fund my economics degree.
So when the opportunity arose to work in Italy I was very excited. I spent four years cooking at top restaurants all over the country, including Sorrento [at the two-Michelin-starred Don Alfonso], Sardinia and Florence
Does your personal culture have any influence on your cooking? In some ways, yes, but in others, no. I certainly do not cook fusion food at Tempo. It is 100% Italian.
Having said that, our menu is strong on fish and our zucchini is cooked in a tempura batter, which makes it very light. Plus knowing how to use a sashimi knife comes in useful when preparing our wild sea bass carpaccio.
What inspires you? Food markets, my travels, other restaurants. As far as recipes go, seasonal food is probably the number one thing which influences and inspires me.
How do you think the award will help your career? It's too soon to think about that but it will certainly help raise the profile of Tempo. We have received very good reviews from some hard-to-please London critics and I hope this award will reinforce their positive opinions and help spread the word further.
Anyone who has a passion for producing authentic Italian food should strive for this award.