…lit up my afternoon yesterday. At 2 o’clock sharp she was on post in Alain Ducasse’s ecole de cuisine, an energetic yet soft, elegant yet generous woman, thin like a beanpole in fact – and dog-tired. Only 24 hours earlier she had touched Parisian ground again, flying in from Tokyo, so her inner clock was still set to Japanese time. She stood there, at 10 o’clock p.m. Tokyo time, so she must have felt like going to bed soon, but she bravely hid her fatigue with ease and the natural allure she owns. She’s a cook, she’s a chef, so she can stand the heat, and I assume that it also helps to be a Japanese lady when it comes to matters of self-discipline.
We were cooking, Fumiko Kono and a cooking class of 9 people, dressed up in thick Ducasse aprons and ready for adventure. Tokyo Today was the tag on the session and Fumiko was soon handling Daikon and Shiso, a radish-like root and a tasty herb from the Far East which she would mix with Western ingredients like olive oil and even foie gras. And while heating the pans, stirring onions, boiling raisins, chopping mushrooms she said things only professional cooks ever say, like: “I think the shallots are a bit too stressed now” (so she added some water) or: “Now it’s time to cook with your ears” (when the raisins started sizzling in the pot).
All of this not in English but in very decent French. A surprise? Not really. Before becoming a flying chef, cooking for the happy few and very wealthy in Paris, Tokyo or New York, Fumiko Kono worked at Alain Passard’s 3-star-restaurant L’Arpège and was later drawn by world renowned fine food merchant Fauchon to polish up the company’s image. Needless to say that she succeeded. She’s a perfectionist and a book author and a Parisian celebrity, but with a smile.
I could tell you lots of insights that Fumiko shared with us but that needed more space than a blog post can offer. We prepared a mushroom velouté made of champignons and Shiitake, shallots, onions and a smoked-milk-capuccino, you’ll find the recipe in my recipe’s section. We bedded the foie gras on Daikon discs braised in honey and soysauce. We did a lot of things and we really learnt a lot. And in the end, we even drank red and white wine together, well, except Fumiko that is. She stood by the table, exhausted, she felt like sleeping, not like drinking, and I’m sure she left the cooking school only to go straight to her bed.
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