By Claudia Luna
Let’s look around us: circles that mark time, squares emitting color images, spiral bones that protect shellfish. Lines, ovals and hexagons everywhere; we live in a world drawn by design. Created by nature or devised by man, it is the source that feeds the architecture, fashion, art and, of course, cooking.
Is it valid to talk about the cuisine as an aesthetic experience, mostly visual? An experience where you eat for the sheer pleasure of observing natural pigments and forms that harmonize with each other, creating a dish capable of stimulating the eye rather than the taste or smell?
Gentle and shy, with piercing eyes, careful observer of shapes, colors and textures, Yoshiaki Takazawa has transformed the traditional Japanese cuisine (perhaps unintentionally) in a kitchen primarily visual. His dishes are built with Japanese ingredients such as fruits, vegetables and animals. These are the elements, like the colors in the painting or the sounds in music. He constantly creates something new, but always takes as the basis for the composition of a dish an object of found design. In the purest style of Dada, Takazawa is several steps ahead of the traditional cuisine.
For more than five years he’s been the host of the restaurant Aronia of Takazawa, he’s personally responsible for cooking and serving his guests making them feel at home. He cooks in front of them, there are no secrets in his recipes, he explains in detail what he’ll serve and what each gesture means. Surprise, fun and imagination are unleashed at the two tables in the restaurant. Yes, only two, for he serves only ten people maximum.
Takazawa’s philosophy is based on ties of nature and culture, memory, tradition and innovation. He does not follow fads or trends, uses seasonal ingredients and takes full advantage. A key element in his kitchen is the salt, which for him represents life, home, belonging and identity. An identity that no human being can give up, because eating is belonging to the world.
His food, even though it primarily conquers the aye, involves all senses. He materializes his imagination in every dish, beginning with which is well established in the memory of each culture. But the young Yoshiake knows that a dish, beyond it’s design, is food, and as such it is a definite cultural test. Only then can we speak of an aesthetic dining experience.