Chef de Cuisine, Izumi
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2013
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Nobu Matsuhisa Athens Astir Palace Resort, Greece; Nobu Restaurant Park Lane, London; Tashiro Restaurant, Kumamoto; Meil Parque Hotel and Restaurant, Kumamoto; Chino Latino Restaurant at Park Plaza Hotel, Leeds; Japanic Restaurant and Bar, Leeds;
- Saitama Prefecture, Japan
- Culinary Arts, Thomas Danby College, Leeds; Stanton School of English, London
- Japanese, English, studying French
Mitusuru Tsukada left Japan to learn a language and find his calling, but he couldn’t leave his home country entirely behind. “When I was young, I always found it interesting to meet international visitors,” he recalls of growing up in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. Drawn by a desire to communicate, he followed his undergraduate education with a few odd jobs before heading to London to study English. After gaining proficiency, he entered a culinary school in Leeds and then landed as a chef at a local Japanese restaurant.
It was the start of a rewarding culinary career – and more. “I always thought if I did something outside of Japan it would have to reflect my culture,” he says. “I didn’t know it would take me this far.”
As Chef de Cuisine of Izumi at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva, Tsukada is now the man behind the menu of its popular Japanese-fusion restaurant, which is laid out eight stories above lake level on the most expansive rooftop in the city. Drawing upon his own talent and taking inspiration from 360-degree views over Geneva, Tsukada fashions unexpected combinations – from lobster with foie gras with teriyaki truffle sauce to pan-fried john dory with sake truffle sauce – into striking presentations to coax diners to come upstairs, kick back and enjoy.
And enjoy it they do. Tsukada says he initially wondered how things would go when he was tapped to open Izumi in 2013. “It was the first restaurant of its kind in Geneva, so I was curious to see if it would be a success. But we had a good opening, and we’ve been busy ever since.” Key to the continued success is repeat clientele who are dazzled by new seasonal offerings as well as by the welcoming atmosphere. “I think the rooftop is really wonderful, especially in the summer. Sometimes we put on music. People come back just to relax.”
Meantime, Tsukada has long counted himself “fortunate” with the local suppliers he was able to line up for top-quality ingredients. “Some really have a passion to find new things for us. Nobody ever says ‘we don’t have this.’ They say, ‘we’ll find it for you.’”
Tsukada took a winding route from Leeds to Geneva, with detours to Japan, back to England, and then to Greece. He was trained in the art of sushi and sashimi by the President of the Japanese Society of Chefs at a restaurant in Kumamoto before moving on to become chef de partie of the Mayfair, London outlet of a fusion restaurant fashioned by a celebrity chef. Later, as sous chef and then as chef, he opened another outlet in Athens, but shortly departed to opening of Izumi not long after being promoted to head chef.
Now quite content in Geneva – “everything is very organised here, like in Japan” – Tsukada is pleased to be overseeing a kitchen team that has remained consistent with no major changes since the restaurant opened. It’s an international crew, with a Japanese Sushi Chef and many other nationalities behind. “Some of them had a lot of cooking experience, but most where just starting out,” he recalls, noting that he enjoys passing his cooking skills along. “They’re really curious, just like our guests. People are always that way when they have an opportunity to learn a new cuisine.”