Chef Keiji Matoba
Chef Matoba draws most of his inspiration for his cuisine from the beauty of nature and finds ways of incorporating this within his dishes. He is also inspired by Japanese landscape architect, Mirei Shigemore, who has heavily influenced the way Chef Matoba presents his food, with Mirei’s zen teachings and ability to transcend Japanese tradition and western modernity, incorporating the tradition of nature with a contemporary approach.
Hailing from Tokyo, Chef Matoba’s passion for cooking first started after he graduated from high school, when he spent six months in New York studying English language. As he explored the streets of New York, he witnessed what a diversified city it was and noticed the plethora of Japanese restaurants and chefs at work. It was then that he realised he had a strong passion for gastronomy, which inspired him to bring his expertise to the city.
Keen to broaden his experience before making his mark on New York, Chef Matoba spent ten years in Japan honing his skills, training for nearly seven years as a tempura chef at the Ritz Carlton Osaka. His first professional role took him to the Netherlands where he spent five years as Sous Chef in the one Michelin star Japanese restaurant Yamamoto at the Hotel Okura in Amsterdam. Following this, he spent a year as Executive Chef in Hide Yamamoto in Singapore. In 2013, Chef Matoba joined The Chedi in Andermatt, Switzerland to assist in the launch of a new Japanese restaurant helmed by acclaimed chef Hide Yamamoto. Here, Chef Matoba designed and curated the entire menu for the launch which subsequently went on to achieve 15 Gault Millau points.
Over 20-years as a Professional Chef
In a career that has spanned over 20-years as a professional chef, Chef Matoba has worked in traditional Japanese kitchens around the world. Throughout his travels, he developed a signature style of cooking that allowed him the flexibility to combine the washoku approach with regionally distinctive ingredients and international tastes, without recourse to the ‘fusion’ concept that animates many Japanese restaurants outside Japan. Matoba’s authentic and original methodology is the driving force behind Nama.