Food Wine Produce
28/09/2020
FORK TALK —- A CHAT WITH OUR FOOD, WINE & DINING EXPERTS —- Master chef Hikaru Orita — Orita’s2, Shop 17 Balnarring Village

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How and when did you begin to create? 

When I was six years old I used to play in and with nature in my hometown Miyazaki in Japan. I felt energised and was intrigued with what the beautiful things in nature had to offer. I understood the simplicity and the hidden beauty that so many other people didn’t understand.

How do you continue to reignite your connection with food? 

I call myself ‘wild’. When I spend time with nature, I sink into it. I totally submerge into it and become connected with it. I draw this energy for my creativity and it is unexplainable. 

What is the one thing Orita’s 2 delivers that others don’t? 

I translate the values of nature expressed in the form of food, which is conveyed through my heart, passion and 56 years of culinary experience. Nature appears simple but it is complex and so is my food, which is filled with the simplicity of love at face value. 

Have you changed how you prepare and cook throughout COVID-19? 

I have not compromised my values at all in the food preparation. I shop daily in the markets for the freshest produce. I shop for you and cook for you, but pre-ordering has assisted and will continue to assist me with the planning of my guests’ meals. 

Tell us about your Omakase practice and Orita’s 2 takeaway in-home dining service. 

Being able to offer takeaway is good. However, the timing factor for guests to enjoy my spiritual food can be difficult. This is why I have requested that guests now pre-order to ensure my concentration on cooking each order for a pre-determined pick-up time. I only cook during that time for one guest order to ensure they have my total concentration. I dislike the traditional model of takeaway because of the time gap and many meals are being cooked consecutively.  

Please let our readers know about your expert teppanyaki skills. 

It is very unusual for a Japanese restaurant to have dishes like steak. I was very fortunate that, as part of my apprenticeship training, I was able to be the student of the founder of the teppanyaki cuisine, where I learnt all about meat. Every piece of meat has its own identity, which tells me how to cook it. I worked 16 hours a day with only one day off in a year – on the first day of every year – to master this skill. The hard work has paid off, but not many people understand the value of it because it is disguised by being simple. 

And finally, your food philosophy in one sentence? 

I respect nature without disturbing its natural flavours and unique characters, which is expressed through the mastery of simplicity, consistency and perfection. 

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