Mika Amano Profile
New Zealand Chef
Mika Amano Profile
My Food and Beverage grounding is centered on my family’s traditions, which included dining with and entertaining visiting international, governmental, state and local dignitaries and officials, businessmen and their colleagues.
I have lived in Kyushu and in Tokyo. I was greatly privileged to be able to associate in a group who were able to dine in Tokyo’s best known restaurants. I have worked as a culinary instructor at a school, teaching basic and advanced cooking skills and the preparation of a wide range of international dishes. I have been fortunate to travel to and live in other cities in Japan, the U.S, New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and New Zealand. In each place I have tried to grow my understanding of their many food cultures, both as represented in the major cities, and in the countryside. I have enjoyed experimenting with fresh food, and improving my hands-on preparation skills.
My earliest memories, I guess from the age of three, include helping in my grandparent’s commercially equipped kitchens in the our ancestral home in Kyushu, Japan. We children hovered near the three refrigerators and as the youngest, I assisted the women, first with pickling, bottling and preserving, and as we grew older, with the preparation, presentation and dining on all manner of international foods. We young ones later took charge of what was, in terms of cooking styles, pretty much a weekly circumnavigation of the globe, always with the finest of dishes, which we presented proudly to our family and guests, before all dining together.
The most important food value instilled at home was to always use the freshest ingredients. Nothing less would do. Our home town is located near the sea and fertile land. We sourced ingredients daily from the markets, or from our own orchards and grounds when we could, or we bought and used the finest imported ingredients if locally grown product was unavailable. We were taught to never waste food, and to use any remaining foods in the best ways, this often being in the creation of a range of stocks for use as the base of planned future meals.
The Japanese chef Tsujitome, whose philosophy was along the lines of “don’t cook the food too much – rely on bringing the natural tastes to the table” is probably my greatest influence, after family. For me, fresh beats the finest preserved caviar, or vintage champagne (but I’ll rarely refuse the latter two either)