CHATTING FABULOUSLY W/ CHEF RICHIE NAKANO

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In my Chatting Fabulously interviews, I always find myself doing 3 things. One would be searching out for young talent everywhere, secondly usually finding this talent via social media, mostly Twitter and thirdly asking the talent I find, if social media is effecting their lives. Case in point, social media has effected my life and the lives of others, as it has pointed me in the direction of Chef Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen out in San Francisco. I payed special attention to Chef Nakano, as Hapa Ramen was getting praise from everywhere (including the Wustof brand) ! And we all know, I love the non-traditional chef thats making phenomenal food! Chef Nakano and Hapa Ramen make it their mission to use ALL humane, organic, seasonal, and local ingredients and apply modern techniques, which makes Hapa Ramen so fabulous.. Did I mention, they dont technically have a restaurant yet? Pop up's are more of their thing....and this makes me love them even more! Lets get into what Chef Nakano has to say about culinary school, the 1 thing he has to eat, and if Hapa Ramen will ever serve noodles in NYC. 


CS: What is your current position?
RN: Chef & owner of Hapa Ramen San Francisco.


 Chris Stewart: Where did you get your education?
Chef Richie Nakano: I went to the California Culinary Academy here in San Francisco. 

CS: Where have you gained your experiences? 
RN: I've worked at Sushi Ran, Va De Vi, Pres A Vi, and Nopa before moving on to open Hapa Ramen... 

CS: I feel like there are pros and cons of going to culinary school. Do you think culinary school in this day and age is important as it was say 10-20 years ago? 
RN: Generally no--I think practical experience is far more enriching...but some people need the confidence and vocabulary that attending school affords them.  I think a dual approach is best; learn on the job and self educate yourself by reading culinary school text books.   

CS: Do you think social media {Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc} is killing the essence of cooking and what it means to be a chef?  
RN: No, social media is an unusually potent tool for connecting, learning, networking and marketing. I wouldnt be where I am, know the people I do, etc, without it. 

CS: How do you think the West coast food scene differs from the East coast food scene?
RN: The bounty the West coast offers in terms of produce definitely is a big difference! I think the East coasts daring and dining culture allows for more innovation.  They both have a lot to offer one another in terms of influence and ideas. 

CS: What is your favorite menu item right now at Hapa Ramen?
RN: We're playing around with a lot of different broths right now, and the grey kabocha squash and miso broth is pretty great. 

CS: What can diners look forward to for the upcoming spring and summer seasons at Hapa Ramen? 
Menu Add On's @ Hapa Ramen SF
RN: Spring and Summer are almost overwhelming in terms of ingredients, so our guests get a non stop rotation of garnishes and flavors from us.  Also we start incorporating cold noodles back into our menu which is always popular. 

CS: Your video for Wustof is amazing. How did your work with Wustof come about? 
RN: I got lucky I guess.nThey contacted me out of the blue. 

 CS: I love in your Wustof  video that you said, "People are in love with the idea of cooking, not the craft". Can you elaborate on that. 
RN: I think that people see cooking on tv, or have a successful dinner party and get the wrong idea about what it means to cook professionally.  Cooking professionally is about repetition and refining your craft...contributing to it.  It has nothing to do with praise or fame or anything like that.   

CS: Ramen is booming in NYC right now, will Hapa Ramen be coming to NYC in the near future?
RN: Probably not, but you never know. I love New York, have friends and family in New York.  But for now SF is our home. 

CS: Finish the sentence! " I will never eat....." 
RN: Wow.  A lot.  Fast food.  Factory farmed foods.  Anything made with money as the driving intention. 

CS: What is the 1 ingredient in your home at all times? 
RN: Cereal. Its the one thing we can all agree on.

CS: Whats next for you. What can we look forward to from you? 
RN: Opening a restaurant and a couple little surprises along the way.  My team and I are pretty 
excited about what this year holds. 

Keep Up with Richie: 

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