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Japan-born Executive Chef Isao Yamada developed his culinary skills alongside top chefs across Japan, from Chef Hitoshi Ishihara at Kitcho to Chef Ishihara at Ryotei Hanzui-ryo before opening "Hana-Ei" in Fukoka, Japan, in 2000. David Bouley invited him to join his Japanese restaurant project, Brushstroke, in 2006.




How do you characterize your cuisine?

I was trained in a very traditional Japanese restaurant in Kyoto to start and then came to the US and spent time with a very innovative chef. So I am in the process of establishing my own style of cuisine combining all the elements I've learned from those experiences.

What region or ethnicity most influences your cooking?

Kyoto, Japan where I was trained as a young cook.

What is your signature dish?

Every dish that I create is original and special.

What kind of food were you exposed to as a child?

I grew up by the sea and mountains and I went to the mountains with my father to harvest vegetables and then cooked them very simply at home.

Have you ever lived or trained overseas? Where?

I spent about a week at El Bulli in Spain.

Is there an exotic spice or ingredient that you particularly enjoy using?

Sansho pepper and hissop flower, similar to shiso in smell.

Does the design and style of your restaurant evoke a particular place? If so, where?

The look is original, not something you could find in Japan or the US or anywhere else.

When you cook for yourself, what do you make?

Rice, cooked in a donabe.  I add fresh ingredients from the farmers market.

Tell us about some trips you've taken for inspiration.

I used to travel to rural regions in Japan such as Okinawa, Kagoshima, Miyazaki to learn about local cooking.

What are your thoughts on global cuisine?

People are now familiar with Japanese ingredients.  I would like to introduce the philosophy behind Japanese culture and cuisine through my food.