Julia Sherman: Yukari, you made this really simple arrangement for our shoot that used a single branch to play with the dimension and depth of the space. Does that have something to do with Ikebana, traditional Japanese floral arrangement?
Yukari Iki: Yes, it does. I like ikebana’s asymmetric form and how their rules manage to create perspective, just in the way they place each stem.
JS:Where do you source the flowers from?
YI: Most of them are from the flower market in Ohta and some of the herbs are from Kagoshima or directly from prefecture farmers.
JS: The Little Shop of Flowers travels. Where have you done these pop-ups, and do you have any planned for the future?
YI: We have one planned for December. Our next destination is a small gift shop at the Ace Hotel in London.
JS: Cool! Yuri, your father provides Eatrip with veggies, has he always done this for the restaurant, or is this a new thing? Does he grow to order, or do you just take what he gives you?
Yuri Nomura: My father produces vegetables in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture for Eatrip from spring to autumn every year. My chefs, my father and I discuss together what kind of vegetables we want, then he plants in spring just for us. But he doesn’t grow everything we need, we still work with small local farmers. Connecting farmers and chefs is my mission. By connecting farmers with chefs in Tokyo, purchasing from the farm directly, trying to reduce transfer cost etc…
JS: Has serving organic food always been a primary concern for you?
YN: I don’t stick exclusively to organic produce. Instead, I make it my mission to use Japanese ingredients from farmers who I have visited and respect.
JS: How did you learn to cook?
YN: My mother cooked every single day when I was growing up, so I was learning to cook even before I realized it. Later in life, I went to Berkley to become an intern at Chez Panisse, so that was definitely a big part of my education.
JS: Do you consider your food to be “Japanese,” or does that not even matter to you?
YN: I don’t worry about whether or not my food is, “Japanese,” but it will always be my foundation. I use Japanese ingredients, and I always try to prepare them minimally and simply, in an effort to highlight their natural flavors.