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Chef Isao Yamada

Chef Isao Yamada is one of only a few chefs in New York who have trained at an authentic kaiseki Michelin three-star restaurant based on the tea ceremony in Kyoto. 

When he was 19 years old, Yamada encountered a book called ''The Flowering Spirit of Kitcho Cuisine'' by the late Teiichi Yuki of acclaimed Japanese kaiseki restaurant group Kitcho. He was so moved by Yuki’s cuisine and sensitivity for the seasonal food culture of Japan that he quit college in order to enter the culinary world. After studying the basics at Tsuji Cooking Academy in Osaka for one year, Yamada landed a job at the Kyoto outlet of Kitcho in 1995. There the young chef was trained in the seasonal philosophy of kaiseki cuisine and the art of the tea ceremony. Three years later, Yamada travelled to work at the kaiseki restaurant at Ryotei Hanzuiryo Hotel in Nagasaki. In 2000, at the age of 25, Yamada opened his own restaurant, Kaiseki Hanaei, in his hometown of Fukuoka. Surrounded by the sea and mountains, and rich in vegetables and seafood, Yamada had the opportunity to integrate the cuisine of the local Kyushu region with Kyoto culture.

Yamada was then introduced to Chef David Bouley, who invited him to join his Japanese restaurant project in New York, Brushstroke. The prospect was exciting enough that Yamada closed Hanaei and moved to New York in 2006. He joined Bouley Upstairs as a sous chef, eventually becoming Executive Chef at Brushstroke. At Brushstroke, he collaborated with David Bouley to present kaiseki that combined fundamental tradition with innovation, incorporating French techniques. At his newest project, Kaiseki Room by Yamada, in partnership with The Group, he will pursue the depth and breadth of taste in his formal style of this traditional zen Japanese cuisine.