Tetsuya Wakuda is a world-renowned chef, known for his innovative, Japanese-influenced approach to Australian cuisine. Born in Hamamatsu, Japan in 1959, Wakuda moved to Australia in 1982, where he would go on to establish himself as one of the country’s most respected chefs.
Early Life and Career
Wakuda grew up in Hamamatsu, a city located in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan. His father was a fisherman, and from a young age, Wakuda was exposed to the abundant seafood of the region. He became interested in cooking at a young age and began working in a local restaurant at the age of 16.
In 1982, Wakuda moved to Australia, where he initially worked as a kitchen hand at Fishwives in Surry Hills, Sydney. He quickly worked his way up to become a chef, and in 1989, he opened his own restaurant, Tetsuya’s, in Rozelle, a suburb of Sydney.
Tetsuya’s quickly became known as one of Sydney’s best restaurants, earning rave reviews for its innovative, Japanese-influenced cuisine. Wakuda’s signature dishes, such as the confit of ocean trout with fennel and orange, and the steamed barramundi with ginger and shallot, showcased his unique approach to using fresh, high-quality Australian ingredients in a Japanese-inspired way.
The restaurant’s decor was also notable, featuring an open kitchen and a serene Japanese garden that provided a tranquil backdrop to the dining experience. Tetsuya’s was soon named Restaurant of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald and went on to earn numerous other accolades, including three stars in the inaugural Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide.
In 1999, Tetsuya’s moved to a larger location in the CBD, where it remains to this day. The new location allowed Wakuda to expand the restaurant’s offerings, and he began to incorporate more French and Chinese influences into his cooking.
Wakuda’s Culinary Philosophy
Wakuda’s approach to cooking is heavily influenced by his Japanese heritage, as well as his experiences working in Australian kitchens. He is known for his focus on using high-quality, seasonal ingredients, and for his attention to detail in the preparation and presentation of each dish.
Wakuda also believes in the importance of simplicity in cooking, and often incorporates just a few key ingredients into each dish, allowing their flavors to shine through. He has said, “I try to cook simply and let the ingredients speak for themselves. It’s not about adding more and more elements to a dish, but about finding the essence of each ingredient and highlighting that.”
In addition to his focus on quality ingredients and simplicity, Wakuda is also known for his use of traditional Japanese cooking techniques, such as steaming, grilling, and pickling. He often incorporates these techniques into his modern Australian dishes, creating a unique fusion of flavors and cooking styles.
In addition to his flagship restaurant, Wakuda has also opened several other dining establishments over the years. In 2014, he opened Waku Ghin, a high-end restaurant located in the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore. The restaurant features an open kitchen and a menu that highlights the best ingredients from around the world, including Australian seafood and Japanese wagyu beef.
Wakuda has also released several cookbooks over the years, including Tetsuya: Recipes from Australia’s Most Acclaimed Chef and Tetsuya’s: The Cookbook. These books showcase his unique approach to cooking and highlight his signature dishes.
In addition to his culinary pursuits, Wakuda is also known for his love of art and design. He has collaborated with several artists and designers over the years, and his restaurants are known for their elegant and minimalist decor.
Honors and Awards
Wakuda’s culinary achievements have earned him numerous accolades over the years. In 1999, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the Australian food industry. He has also been named Chef of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald and has received numerous other awards for his restaurants.
In 2015, Wakuda was inducted into the Restaurant & Catering Hall of Fame, recognizing his significant contributions to the Australian culinary scene. He has also been named as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants by the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Tetsuya Wakuda’s innovative approach to cooking has had a significant impact on the Australian culinary scene. His use of high-quality, seasonal ingredients and traditional Japanese techniques has influenced countless chefs and restaurants throughout the country.
Wakuda’s emphasis on simplicity and attention to detail has also helped to elevate Australian cuisine to a new level of sophistication and refinement. His signature dishes, such as the ocean trout confit and the steamed barramundi, continue to be beloved by diners at Tetsuya’s and other restaurants around the world.
In addition to his culinary legacy, Wakuda’s commitment to excellence and dedication to his craft serve as an inspiration to chefs and food enthusiasts around the world. As he once said, “I believe that cooking is an art form, and like any art, it takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work to master. But when you create something truly beautiful and delicious, it’s all worth it in the end.”