Chef Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi - Biography

Kyoto, Japan

July 2010

There are few chefs in the world who manage to successfully balance deep tradition, genuine innovation, and exquisite presentation. Yoshihiro Murata is one of them.

Murata is the third generation in his family to cook at Kikunoi, a century-old ryotei, or restaurant, in Kyoto. After traveling through France and then working at Kamome, he returned to his family and worked alongside his father at Kikunoi. In 1989, Murata opened Kikunoi Kiyamachi and won critical acclaim for his new style of kaiseki cuisine.

His modern approach to his forefather’s classic cooking—steeped in ceremony and meaning—has redefined how many chefs regard this high-level Japanese cuisine inside and outside of Japan, influencing the likes of Nobu Matsuhisa and Ferran Adrià.

In traditional kaiseki style, Murata’s dishes are intensely seasonal. Each dish is a study in nature: for example spring’s first buds poking through snow are interpreted by Murata in the form of grated daikon, chrysanthemum leaves, and coltsfoot buds with tilefish and tofu. The aesthetic of his dish is just as important as the inspiration and philosophy behind it. Murata’s creations are precise, delicate, and masterfully balanced in all aspects.

Today, Murata travels all over the world to showcase his specialized cooking. His first book, Kaiseki (Kodansha International, Inc.) was published in 2006 and won “Best Chef Book” at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He serves as the chairman for The Japanese Culinary Academy and plays an integral role in the Japanese culinary industry.

Besides overseeing Kikunoi in Kyoto and Tokyo and Kikunoi Kiyamachi in Kyoto, Murata also manages a high-end line of food products that is sold at luxury department stores throughout Japan.