Chef Shoji


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A new generation of chefs promoting Japanese food for the future


9. Winner of Asia's Best Female Chef Award 2022! “été” Chef Natsuko Shoji - The 30-year-old female chef's goal is still a long way off

Chef Natsuko Shoji of ``été'' won the ``ASIA'S BEST FEMALE CHEF AWARD'' in the 2022 edition of ``Asia's 50 Best Restaurants''. The awards will be presented at the 2022th "Asia's 3 Best Restaurants" awards ceremony to be held on March 29, 10. This time, to commemorate her great achievement, we are reposting an interview we conducted in 50.

The true face of the 30-year-old Japanese female chef who achieved this feat for the first time

It was a great success in the "Asia's 2020 Best Restaurants" announced in March 50. Japanese restaurants have been ranked highly every year, but in fact, no female chef has ever won the award. However, this time, chef Natsuko Shoji of ``été'' became the first Japanese woman to receive the special award for ``Best Pastry Chef'', although it was not included in the 50 rankings. In recent years, it has become commonplace for women to play an active role in any genre, to the point where people hesitate to call themselves ``women'', but unfortunately, Japanese women still have a long way to go in the food world. This is despite the fact that many female chefs are attracting attention overseas with their spectacular achievements, both in the Michelin Star and in the Best 50 Restaurants list.


Having achieved this goal, Chef Natsuko Shoji is currently receiving more attention from both inside and outside the country than ever before. After winning the award, Chef Shoji continued to lead a busy and glamorous life, releasing jewel-like chocolates in collaboration with world-famous artist Takashi Murakami. She appears in fashion magazines and commercials with the appearance of an actress, and those who have seen her with a big smile may not be able to imagine what kind of daily life this young chef is living behind the scenes. Shoji's life as a chef was like driving a car with the limiter removed.

Sea urchin tart is été's signature dish. His proven skills as a pastry chef are reflected in the crispy and fragrant dough. Sea urchin tart is été's signature dish. His proven skills as a pastry chef are reflected in the crispy and fragrant dough.

Sea urchin tart is été's signature dish. His proven skills as a pastry chef are reflected in the crispy and fragrant dough.

After finding a painful, hard, and lonely “heaven”

For Shoji, who grew up in a complicated family environment, the restaurant kitchen he found at the age of 15 was a haven where he could finally express himself freely. However, his passion for cooking and his desire to reach the top were so strong that he couldn't even control himself, and he was always so immersed in it that he experienced more frustration and pain than anyone else. He jokingly says that his life's motto is ``I won't die like this,'' but there's some serious emotion mixed in. Do you like it or dislike it? It may be difficult for people to understand the clumsy side of her that only allows her to rush forward.


``I love my job so much that I can't do anything but give it my all.I hope to convey the wonders of this world to young Japanese women and encourage more people to aspire to it, but I want to live my life the way I am right now.'' If I showed her that, she would probably turn me away.I feel like my desire to rest, have fun, and fall in love are a hindrance to me right now, and I'm only interested in cooking and restaurants.'' On the contrary, Chef Shoji's calm tone of voice is impressive. I know that being able to say, ``I'm happy to be able to balance being a housewife and being a chef'' would contribute to the development of human resources in the industry, but it seems difficult.


However, recently, there has been a change in my life, which has been stoically running alone. There are two young female staff members working in the kitchen of ``été'' who have followed Shoji as their target. "One day, when paper products were becoming difficult to obtain due to the new coronavirus, I arrived at a store and found an unfamiliar brand of toilet paper on display. When I asked about it, one of the staff members said, ``For customers, we have some toilet paper at home. I brought something for you.'' I was thrilled to know that such a wonderful staff member was following me.''


At the end of 2019, the store was relocated and the system was changed to allow the restaurant to operate in a more open environment. He won the ``Best Pastry Chef Award,'' but of course his goal is to succeed as a chef. Shoji, who is rapidly paving the way for the world of female chefs, is truly the creator of a new era.


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Natsuko Shoji

Born in Tokyo in 1989. He trained at a French restaurant in Tokyo while still in high school, and after graduating, he worked at Le Jeu de Lachette in Daikanyama and Florilege in Minami Aoyama. In 2014, at the age of 24, she opened her own patisserie, ``Fleur de Eté,'' and a year later, she also opened a restaurant, ``été.'' In March 2020, she became the first Japanese woman to win the ``Asia's Best Restaurant Best Pastry Chef Award''.


Address 23-XNUMX-XNUMX Nishihara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Phone number not disclosed

Open for lunch and dinner by reservation.

Reservations can be made for up to 6 people per table per day. For reservations, please visit the website.


Course 33,000 yen per person

*Tax and service charge not included

The Japanese food and beverage industry is dominated by excellent restaurants, including not only Japanese cuisine but also French, Italian, and Chinese cuisine. However, if you look deeper than that, you will see that a new generation has sprouted that will carry the future of Japan's food on their shoulders, and they are showing remarkable success. The "Premium Japan" editorial department selected 12 chefs who face food beyond all boundaries. I asked him what vector he was aiming for.


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Photography by Shintaro Oki
Text by Mayuko Yamaguchi


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