Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
- 445-3, Myohoin Maekawa-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0932, Japan
Four Seasons Tenure
- From 2003-2012; since June 2015
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Pastry Intern at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
- Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia; Clown Bar, Paris, France; Saturne, Paris, France; Pierre Sang in Oberkampf, Paris, France; Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi; Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
- Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
- Japanese, English, French
Born in Hokkaido and raised in the US, Pastry Chef Reiko Yokota brings a storied sensibility to Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, composing desserts that blend artistry, innovation and nostalgia. “Whenever I experience true joy, the feeling stays with me,” she explains. “I love to draw on these memories to craft new desserts. The dots connect together naturally – from my childhood in the American wilderness, to the joie de vivre I found in Paris, to the culinary heritage of my hometown in Japan.”
Growing up in the surreal cactus-silhouetted deserts of Arizona, young Reiko spent every possible moment outdoors, developing a deep appreciation for nature’s grandeur: “I remember watching the lightning bolts cut through the sky and thinking how beautiful they were.” In the lush forests of Portland, she fell in love with the vividly aroma and flavour of tree-ripened plums, while Dallas introduced her to Mexican food, the bright, bold tastes acting as a wake-up call for her palate.
During her time in France, Reiko explored a brand-new world of European ingredients that continue to feature prominently in her creations. Diners at Four Seasons can sample her signature Chocolate Decadence, an artful composition of beets and hibiscus that “memorialises the sensation I felt when I first tasted a French beet.” Since returning to her homeland, she has also re-discovered Japanese ingredients that stir memories of her own childhood. The result is a delicious fusion of her travels with her roots: konbu kelp and sudachi mousse, Japanese citrus Eton Mess, matcha vacherin, and summer vegetable and mozzarella mousse.
Reiko positions her role as Pastry Chef within the overall culinary experience, an approach she learned while working at prestigious restaurants where desserts were regularly improvised based on the menu of the day. “I want guests to remember the dining experience as a whole,” she says. “Dessert is the last thing you have after an incredible meal. It’s up to us to create magic and make the experience even more memorable.”
After graduating in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Dallas, Reiko began her career in the pastry division of Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. After gaining experience with Four Seasons properties in London and Tokyo, she took her skills to the next level in Paris, including at a Michelin-starred establishment. As pastry chef at the former Saturne restaurant, which used only biodynamic wines and seasonal produce, Reiko developed a passion for local ingredients: “We would receive fresh produce every morning and prepare the day’s desserts from scratch. The vibrancy of flavour was incomparable. I learned how to keep things pure and simple in order to showcase the inherent flavours, a lesson that has stuck with me ever since.”
In 2016, Reiko joined Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto as Assistant Pastry Chef, bringing a bold, unconventional approach to the kitchen. Her unique strength lies in crafting surprising flavour combinations and making use of unusual ingredients, such as wasabi and kelp, in confectionaries. Also worth noting is her open-minded approach to pastry-making: “When making desserts, I don’t just use traditional pastry techniques. I like to try out modern methods used in savoury cooking, as well as ethnic techniques I learned when working with chefs around the world.”
Along with drawing on her international sensibility, Reiko finds continual inspiration in the colours and beauty of nature – a gift that Kyoto keeps on giving. Valued for her originality and optimism, she was promoted to the head of the Hotel’s pastry division in 2021. Summing up her philosophy, she says, “As a chef, your creations will reflect your personality and mood. Our team is very cheerful, and we have a lot of fun at work. We want our desserts to make people smile and feel happy. My aim is to enhance the joyfulness you experience when sharing great food with loved ones, be it your partner, friends or family.”