A recipe for success

by Linda Ozawa 

Behind the charming little restaurant AOC Yoyogi is a strong-minded business-man. Normandy-native Patrice Pichon, the 23-year old Manager and Head Chef  of  AOC Yoyogi  (where the wining and dining is delightfully organic), grew up the poor son of a butcher in a family that struggled to put food on the table. His single-minded focus to succeed as a chef has brought him to various five star kitchens first in London, then finally Tokyo via Osaka.

I understand you’re very young. How old are you?

I am 23, but I’ve been working since 13, and I knew since I was three that I wanted to be a chef. Well this is accord­ing to my mother, I can’t remember that far back!

Why did you choose this profession?

My family was very poor, and from a young age I real­ized that to eat is important. I had to go to the Red Cross to get food for my family, and that has affected me to this day. That is why I am so sensitive to charity. I am looking now for an association to organize charity food donations for the homeless. I am in contact with food everyday, and it is very painful for me to have to throw food away when so many are hungry.

Again, you’re very young but you have quite a list of accomplishments.

Yes, I’ve worked for five star resorts and had the opportu­nity to work with some amazing people that taught me so much. Millennium Hotel in London, Mikuni Restau­rant in Osaka, La Bais in the Ritz Carlton Osaka, these were all places where I learned so much, but I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. Now I am the chef of this restaurant, I can apply everything I’ve learned, which is be creative, don’t copy what’s been done before, change the logic of the food.

What do you mean by “change the logic?”

I was really surprised by the image of French food in Ja­pan. People think French food is crazy expensive, gor­geous, small decorative servings on big plates. But our prices are not expensive and the servings are big. Even things like with desserts, the logic is to serve them in sparkling utensils. So I smear the chocolate along the sides, break down that logic to make something original.

Is that your business philosophy?

Yes. Also, if you really want something, you can have it. Of course it will not drop from the sky, but if you work hard, you can have it!