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Four Seasons Hotel Doha

  • The Corniche, P.O. Box 24665, Doha, Qatar
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Toshikazu Kato

Chef de Cuisine, Nusantao

“We’re embarking on a fun-filled, theatrical and fully immersive sensory and culinary experience to dazzle local and well-travelled guests alike.”

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2007
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Japanese Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai; Kouseki-Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo; Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)

Birthplace

  • Saitama, Japan

Education

  • Japanese Cooking Certification, Tokyo-Chourishi Technical School

Languages Spoken

  • Japanese, English

Toshikazu Kato stepped into a world of responsibility upon arriving at Four Seasons Hotel Doha, but his vision remained clear. “We want to dazzle sophisticated Four Seasons guests with the authentic flavours of the Far East,” says the Chef de Cuisine of Nusantao, noting that his multi-cultural cooking team is nothing if not up to the task. “Those who have dined in Asia will recall the tandoor they enjoyed in India and the sushi they ordered in Japan. And those who haven’t yet been to Asia will be hungry to go.”

With its name taken from the ancient Javanese for “archipelago” and the Chinese for “direction,” Nusantao unfolds as an adventure drawn from the seafaring heritage, exotic materials, fragrant spices and rich culinary traditions of the Far East. “There are vast differences in cuisines across the region,” he says. Japanese depends upon “the best quality and freshest fish.” Thai is nothing without “exotic herbs.” Indonesian is all about “spices and grilling.” Chinese requires unflinching “confidence at the wok.” Indian is about “heat” in the tandoor and on the palate. And Malaysian? “Our signature dessert is ais kacang, a shaved-ice sweet that is making its regional debut at the restaurant. We anticipate a lot of dessert orders.”

Whatever the menu, dining is pure theatre at Nusantao, with delicacies prepared in full view of guests. Over here is the sushi bar. Over there is the tandoor ovens. Elsewhere are satay grills, tawa griddles, dumpling steamers, and on and on. “I see our chefs as actors,” says Kato, noting that the result is distinct from anything else on Doha’s booming dining scene. “Too many Asian restaurants go the fusion route. We’re sticking to authenticity and excitement.”

Kato arrived in the capital of Qatar from Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, where he spent five years as Sous Chef at San-Qi earning invaluable experience under Giancarlo Di Francesco, now Executive Chef in Doha. Kato positively recalls his boss’s familiarity with Far Eastern culture and cuisine, as well as Di Francesco’s ability to communicate with his kitchen team. “He knew what chefs want and we knew how to deliver what he wanted. We all had clear vision on the same page.”

Sourcing fresh, Four Seasons-quality ingredients is a bit of a trick in Qatar, where much of the geography consists of low, sand-covered plain. Kato has been diligent, however, working with suppliers to guarantee Four Seasons-worthy ingredients. “Fortunately, there is no shortage of quality seafood in Doha,” he adds with a laugh, noting that shimmering catch from the Persian Gulf and beyond is what Nusantao: Sea Kitchens is all about.

Kato came to his calling by way of an uncle who offered him a part-time job at a “small bar and very big success” in Tokyo. As nearby offices let out, Kato would find himself handling 400 to 500 covers a night. Intimidating? Hardly. “I enjoyed it so much.”

His uncle’s encouragement aside, it was Kato’s grandmother who really set him on his course. In 1992 when Four Seasons opened its first Japan address in Tokyo at Chinzan-so, she told him he had to get on board as soon as he finished school. “She knew Four Seasons was a very good brand,” he recalls, admitting he is still being mystified by his ancestor’s insight. But not too much: “grandmothers know everything, don’t they?”

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