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"This book preview contains selected pages from The Official Australian Open Handbook. If you wish to purchase the book or find out more, please go to
Chefs : 2009
184 GREAT, GRAND & FAMOUS CHEFS AND THEIR SIGNATURE DISHES both kitchen and dining rooms. And even though there were now eight in the kitchen, if Tets was not there the restaurant did not open. To all intents and purposes, for Tets the restaurant was home. He never returned to Japan. But nor did he forget where he had come from. In his expanded kitchen he continued to marry the flavours and techniques of east and west. He used no dairy products, because "people seem to expect that in a Japanese-style restaurant." He served a lot of seafood, and in dishes such as his confit of ocean trout with unpasteurised roe Tets managed to create dishes that would long stand the test of time. KENT STREET He stayed in Rozelle for ten years. The restaurant was full almost constantly. It won three hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, Australia's equivalent of the Michelin. Tets was recognised (along with Rockpool's Neil Perry) as the country's greatest culinary asset. Though it would be a stretch to claim that he did not even notice, Tets' focus was always on the food. He no longer cooked everything himself---he had staff now---but he could not help touching, tasting and testing everything in the kitchen. And still, if he was not in the kitchen the restaurant was closed. But in 1998 he was asked by the James Beard Foundation if he would go to New York and cook. He said yes. He closed the restaurant for a month, taking his staff with him. And it may have been then that he realised that one day he would be able to let go. In 2000 Tets let go of Rozelle, moving Tetsuya's to a heritage building in Sydney's CBD. The space was much larger, requiring even more people to realise his vision. He had always claimed that "my staff are my family and it's wonderful to see them grow." Here he would have to let them grow further. In a way it was almost humbling. Yet he had no choice but to learn to delegate. He learned. He taught. Then he delegated. He found that it was the palate which it took longest to train, but eventually he could say, 'it's not like I would do, it's not the same, but it's very good.' And one day, after 14 years, he might even sit down at a table in his own restaurant and enjoy food not cooked by him. He did. And then he promptly fell asleep. MONACO It is fortunate that Tets did learn to delegate, because quietly, humbly, he had become a chef of international standing. He had always stated that he would not travel beyond his restaurant save for charity or for friends. But his status amongst his peers was such that there were many invitations he could not refuse. He was invited, for example, alongside such luminaries as Albert Roux, Ferran Adria, Daniel Boulud and Juan Mari Arzak, to attend the 81st birthday celebration of Paul Bocuse in Monaco. More, he was asked to cook for it. He could not say no. Bocuse first visited Japan in 1965, and Tets acknowledges his influence in imbuing Japanese chefs with French technique. "I will always be grateful to Bocuse," he says, because he "had an enormous impact on chefs in my native country ... a profound effect on chefs and restaurantgoers everywhere." Even those in Sydney, Australia who had once dreamed of going to America, but have instead found themselves at the very peak of their profession. As friend and equal Charlie Trotter has said, "His amazing technique, Asian heritage, sincere humility, and insatiable curiosity combine to create incredible, soulful dishes that exude passion in every bite." Tets, if pressed, would doubtless put it differently. "I am not precious about it. Food is food. In the end, you have to eat."