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Anaka, Nicky Nakayama, Japan discussed on The New Yorker Radio Hour


Here's Helen not long ago. I had one in a best meals that I've ever had it was at a restaurant called nocco in Los Angeles. And the kind of they serve their is called K Seki K psyche is a type of Japanese cuisine that you might not be familiar with. It's not that common outside of Japan. It's an incredibly formal ritualized elaborate meal that unfolds over the course of hours, there are dozens of courses. The chef at Anaka in Los Angeles is a woman named NICKY Nakayama, I visited her in the kitchen a few days after I had my meal at Anaka, and when I showed up she gave me a tour and this is our dish pit area. But trust us is a lot more organized. What hap service there's just a lot going on because we have so many dishes. That's like incredible. We had to build a shed outside just to house those dishes. That's why we love our dishwasher Clement. He's been with us for three years. So I feel very fortunate that people wanna like hang out with us and stay even though we want to kill each other. Sometimes. Five very normal. Nakayama was born in L A, and she grew up there. Her parents are Japanese immigrants who owned a seafood distribution company. So she spent her time as a kid working in the warehouse or hanging out in the office. She figured she was going to be going musician. Maybe a pop star. But she ended up spending three years studying traditional Japanese cooking in Japan, and in two thousand eleven the culmination of all of that training and running a couple of other restaurants in L A. She opened a knockout, this is my work area. We're here the kitchen at and knock is the first one that Nakayama has been able to build from the ground up. She designed it to suit herself. She's five foot one. And so everything is at counter height or lower. She has notes pasted up by her workstation and near the past reminding everyone how to feel what the mood is what Anaka is all about the most important. That's that. I had was actually stuck outside the door because I felt that this is a very sacred space for me. And I mean, we've all been in kitchens. Where the environment hasn't always been the friendly one or hasn't been like very conducive to you know, good things. So I had a note outside that said good things starting now. So basically when you walk into a reminder to tell yourself that leave leave all your shit outside. Don't bring it into don't bring it in. But that's since fallen off. But generally everybody gets idea. We're not gamma talks about these unfriendly environments. I think part of what she's referring to is high end kitchens in general, those spaces tend to be pretty Brody almost all the shops. That are running those kitchens, our men and within the already pretty sexist Cayenne restaurant world, high in Japanese cuisine is an area that remains particularly close to female chefs knocking him as response to this is to staff her kitchen almost entirely with women, and that includes her right hand in the kitchen and everything else her sous-chef Carol ADA, I am the sous-chef here at Naga. Are my partner and wife. Don't forget that part. You're not just this shot your important in a lot of ways only you have the most beautiful romanesque. Oh, we don't use a lot of remit room Esco in Japanese food. But I'm sure we'll figure out a way our I and like our Goto thing is okay. Let's just use the to the standard Japanese method to cook. It and see what happens, and if all else fails, we just temporary everything. Zack is incredibly complex and very ritualized. Chefs train for years, sometimes decades to become cocky masters, the difficulty for someone like Nakayama who's trying to make check in California is that the cuisine developed in Japan. It's a meal that reflects Japanese seasons Japanese terrain so to try to translate it to California can be complicated. I think authentic. Checky can only exist in Japan, even for us. We've tried to plant certain plants that are needed to Japan in this environment. And it doesn't work like we've tried to put loss in that window behind you..

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