If you ask Chef Takuma Seki if the world of culinary arts was his first choice of vocation after high school in 1993, this affable son of Niigatawould tell you that if not for his acrophobia(fear of heights), he may have remained a building contractor till this day. It is perhaps a good fortune for avid lovers of contemporary Japanese food that Chef Seki delved into the depth of culinary arts after his short stint in construction.
His love of cooking and meeting new people brought him from the kitchens of Japan to a sushi bar in Washington D.C. in 1999, where he made a name for himself after winning an award for a Sushi Competition 2000-2001 in the US. He was subsequently hired by The Beverly Hills Hotel and Beverly Hilton Hotel as the Sous Chef and worked in this fashionable residential area for four years.
Luck came knocking again in 2006 when Chef Seki was offered the opportunity to join Restaurant Bound, Paris, on the prestigious Avenue de George V as the Executive Chef where he spent the next four years. It was there where he sharpened his knowledge and experience in Western ingredients and his sensibilities to enhance and elevate familiar flavors.
When Hide Yamamoto opened its first restaurant in Singapore in August 2010, Chef Seki was invited by Chef Hide Yamamoto to join him as Executive Sous Chef here. Chef Seki was excited to be back in Asia again, in a vibrant and cosmopolitan city where Japanese food is revered and enjoyed at all levels. Loved for his warm, approachable and jovial disposition, Chef Seki is also respected for his pride and professionalism in his culinary art. His cuisine is strongly, in essence, classic Japanese dishes with a touch of discovery.
So when opportunity came in 2012 from local investor Newbreed Pte Ltd to conceptualize and open a new Japanese restaurant that thwarts mundane expectations, and showcases food that is unpretentious, meticulously sourced, exquisitely prepared and humbly offered to make people happy, Chef Seki took up the offer and became the Executive Chef of IKYU.
From its concept to its cuisine to its edgy post-apocalyptic décor, IKYU is anything but typical. Rooted in age-old artisanal traditions, IKYU is at the same time avant garde and cosmopolitan. At IKYU, Chef Seki aptly demonstrates his East-meets-West sensibility that is most clearly seen in the use of ingredient, technique and presentation in often avant-garde combinations with maximum intensity of flavor.
Since the opening, Chef Seki has kept his motto alive, “…to make people happy with my food.” He is especially proud to promote ingredients from his home country of Japan and his home- town, Niigata, and focuses strongly on Provenance. At IKYU, he serves the best Koshihikari rice and sake from his home-town – the pristine home prefecture of Niigata. He has also introduced Miyazaki beef onto the IKYU menu – a twice-consecutive winner of “Zenkoku Wagyu Noryoku Kyoshinkai” National Competitive Exhibition. Fresh seafood, Japanese fruits and vegetables are air freighted directly from Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market three times a week. He also introduces regular special menus to promote the best of Japanese ingredients.
As Chef Seki advocates, “Food should be something sincere and uncomplicated. And customers must be happy, always!”