Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Iron Chef defeater Chef Yoshimi Tanigawa, said to carry the future of Kyoto cuisine on his shoulders, is a one of a kind. His cuisine is authentically Kyoto, but he isn’t, and that is a good thing because unlike a lot of Kyoto, he is open to the world and people like me, open to sharing his experience and conveying what is unique, useful and enlightening about Kyoto.

In May, we on the KyotoFoodie crew had an opportunity to meet and help out freelance journalist, Adam Sachs who was in town on an assignment for Bon Appetit magazine, doing a story on tofu in Kyoto. Among other places, I steered Adam to Kichisen to try Kyoto-style kaiseki with some tofu dishes. In September, photographer Jeff Lipsky was in town with his assistant and translator shooting photos for Adam’s article. Kichisen and Chef Tanigawa turned out to be the last stop on the list for photo shoots. Jeff and Tanigawa-san really seemed to connect. I was fortunate enough to get invited to the photo shoot at Kichisen — and then dinner!

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Jeff Lipsky Shooting Chef Tanigawa at Kawai Shrine on the Grounds of Shimogamo Shrine

Jeff first shot some portraits of Chef Tanigawa in front of the restaurant and then in the ancient Tadasu-no-Mori primordial forest on the grounds of UNESCO World Heritage Site Shimogamo Shrine. The shots in front of the restaurant were interesting and humorous. Jeff had Chef Tanigawa sprinkling water on the pavement in front of the entrance, an old Kyoto custom. However, this isn’t the work of the boss, but the newest apprentices. (I will refrain from putting any of those shots up, but I did suggest to Jeff that he send Chef Tanigawa a big print as a present!)

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Jeff and Assistant Nate Photographing with Natural Light

Shooting tofu and grated daikon radish broth nabe. I had never heard of this dish, it is called mizore in Japanese, mizore means sleet. The grated daikon in the soup resembles sleet.

It turns out that this story in scheduled to come out in February, 2010. So, Chef Tanigawa made dishes for the photo shoot that he serves in February, the theme being Setsubun. His eho-maki and Kyoto-style inarizushi were so simple, yet so breathtaking!

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Chef Tanigawa Making Tamagoyaki Makizushi

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Chef Tanigawa Saucing Inarizushi

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

This Dish Should Grace the Cover of Bon Appetit - Little Fox Faces on the Inarizushi

Setsubun, Eho-maki and Inarizushi
Setsubun is the festival that celebrates the beginning of spring, something like the spring Equinox and takes place on February 3rd. There are many interesting Setsubun customs, many associated with food. (KyotoFoodie Setsubun articles)

Inarizushi is one of Kyoto’s famous sushi dishes, however, inarizushi doesn’t include fish. It is a deep fried tofu pocket, sweet simmered and stuffed with sushi rice and various flavorings. It comes from the Fushimi district where Fushimi Inari Shrine is. For a millennia this shrine was dedicated to rice cultivation — it changed to commerce some decades ago. At the shrine and its sub-shrines throughout the country, you can see countless statues of a fox with a key in its mouth. The clever and alert fox is guarding the rice granary. Chef Tanigawa used thin sliced pickled senmai-zuke radish tsukemono folded into a fox face-like triangle, seared little eyes into it and placed it atop the inarizushi. I have never seen this before. I was moved, I wasn’t the only one though. Jeff and his crew were amazed too. I am REALLY hoping to see this dish grace the cover of Bon Appetit!

Eho-maki is a makizushi (roll sushi) that is eaten on Setsubun. When you eat eho-maki you have to face a certain direction, it changes every year, eat the whole thing without stopping and not speak until everyone has finished eating. Chef Tanigawa’s eho-maki is slender and delicate, being mostly filled with his incredible tamago-yaki which is made with lots of dashi broth and is fairly sweet.

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Jeff and Assistant Nate Photographing, Chef Tanigawa Looking On

It’s Kaiseki Time!
After a few hours of photo shooting it was time to dine!

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Kampai! (Cheers!)

Kyoto-style Sushi
Kyoto-style sushi has a millennia of history and development behind it. It is often salted, vinegared and wrapped in leaves, kombu, bamboo sheath, paper-thin sheets of wood and so on.

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Amadai Sasamaki Zushi with Beni-shoga (Baby Sea Bream Sasa Bamboo Leaf Sushi with Shiso Pickled Ginger)

Kyoto Summer Favorite: Pike Eel ‘Hamo’ Shabu-shabu
Chef Tanigawa had these beautifully crafted, charcoal fired wooden tubs specially made to his specifications for Kichisen’s shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu onomatopoeia for swish-swish. Thinly sliced raw beef or pork is swished in the hot water for just a moment or two. This is Kyoto’s original summer shabu-shabu. Hamo eel is only eaten in Kyoto, more info here. Chef Tanigawa defeated Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef in the Battle Pike Eel, English video here.

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Kyoto Summer Favorite - Hamo Pike Eel Shabu-shabu

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Hamo Pike Eel Shabu-shabu - Swish

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Hamo Pike Eel Shabu-shabu - Dip

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Tai-gohan (Sea Bream Rice) -- and More Photos

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Tai-gohan (Sea Bream Rice)

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Photos of Dessert

Chef Tanigawa, The Photographer!
I knew that Chef Tanigawa is a great chef, a world traveler, but not an accomplished photographer. After dinner he got out his portfolio of photos from all the places he had traveled through out the world. He uses a 4 x 5 camera for these photos, just like Jeff used. Jeff and Nate were genuinely impressed.

Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen

Surprise! Chef Tanigawa is an Accomplished Photographer

6 Responses to “Bon Appetit Magazine Photoshoot at Kichisen”

  1. rupert says:

    awesome! all of that looked so good. i cant wait for that magazine to come out and i cant wait until july! i am absolutely looking forward to coming to japan

    • [OK] Michael says:

      Hello Rupert, Ah, you are coming to apprentice at Kichisen, right. We are certainly looking forward to your arrival too. If you like, please write an occasional article for OpenKyoto about your experience. Take care!

  2. […] won’t be out till the February issue, but a writer from the blog KyotoFoodie has posted a behind-the-scenes look at one of Jeff’s shoots—at the restaurant Kichisen, with Chef Tanigawa. They got some great […]

  3. Michael, thanks for the wonderful behind-the-scenes story on Jeff! I write a blog for Stockland Martel, the agency that represents him, and I’ve just posted a link to your story:


  4. […] most recent trip to Tokyo, I met the Tokyo Fixer, AKA Shinji Nohara.  We met earlier in 2009 at a Bon Appetit photoshoot at Kichisen. I didn’t know much about Shinji, he was very low key but with a Hollywood […]

  5. Nils von Barth says:

    BTW, the article has been published and is available online:
    Kyoto’s Tofu Obsession, Bon Appetite, February 2010
    …together with a recipe by chef Tanigawa:
    Yudofu (Simmered Tofu with Soy Dipping Sauce)
    (Of the pictures, online there’s only the yudofu dish; dunno if there are more in print.)

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