Chef Sommelier, est
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2021
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi
- Cuisine Michele Troisgros, Tokyo, Japan; Antica Osteria del Ponte, Tokyo, Japan; Sadler Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; Café Chou Chou, Hiroshima, Japan
- Tokyo Communication Art Technical College, Electric Bass Guitar Diploma
- Hiroshima, Japan
- Japanese, Italian, English, French
With nearly two decades of experience as a sommelier, Takeshi Shimura brings with him a distinctive approach to fine wine. As Chef Sommelier at est, the signature restaurant serving innovative French cuisine influenced by the Japanese terroir, he loves to share his passion and expertise with guests. “When food and wine work together in harmony, they create a beautiful gastronomic landscape, bringing out intricate flavours in one another,” he explains.
Growing up in Hiroshima, Shimura was introduced to the art of gastronomy from an early age, exploring Mediterranean restaurants with his father, a professional cook, and learning about kaiseki cuisine from his mother. The world of restaurants fascinated him from the very start. “Going out to eat felt like going on a trip,” he says. “I was travelling the world through the food, and it was so inspiring.”
Now at est, Shimura brings the journey to his guests through exceptional wine pairings. He is also responsible for introducing a number of locally produced wines into the restaurant’s repertoire. “While they’re usually overlooked in haute cuisine, Japanese wines are unique and original. There is Koshu from Yamanashi prefecture, a white wine with a sake-like flavour, fruity but with a dry finish,” he explains. “Or take the Domain Soga wine from Nagano, 100 percent pinot noir and a rosé, made with organic grapes. This wine is delicate and nuanced, making it a perfect complement to Chef Guillaume’s dishes.”
Shimura is delighted to share the history of Japan’s wine-growing prefectures and the stories behind certain bottles, taking guests on a journey of discovery. Equally interested in the vintage, he knows that every patch of land boasts its own flavour and fragrance: “In a good year, you can taste the terrain and history with each sip.”
Interestingly, Shimura’s first love wasn’t wine but music. After graduating from university, he worked as an electric bass guitarist in a Tokyo-based band for several years. He strongly believes his experience as a musician makes him a better sommelier: “Being a bass guitarist, you listen to all of these different sounds, and then you add the one element that brings them all together. This perfectly describes the role of wine in fine dining.”
It was in 2002 that Shimura finally set his sights behind the bar. Along with honing his credentials at prestigious dining establishments, he also earned a certificate from the Japan Sommelier Association. The years spent perfecting his craft paid off when renowned French restaurant Cuisine Michel Troigros in Tokyo appointed him Chief Sommelier in 2018.
“I love opening up the world of wine for my guests by introducing them to new tastes and unusual flavour combinations. My goal is to bring them as much joy in an evening as wine brings me every single day,” he says. “All our hard work is worth it when a guest says, ‘Wow, this is a first for me. I love it!’ Nothing beats that feeling.”
At est, Shimura and his team deliver a highly curated drinking experience. Guest satisfaction is paramount: depending on the way a patron responds to the first glass of wine, subsequent recommendations are further customised. Shimura is also in the process of introducing tea pairings, working with delicate varieties such as Japanese green tea and Shimoda black tea as well as more intense strains such as Ceylon and Darjeeling.
In his free time, he still loves to play the bass guitar. In addition, he is currently exploring his newfound love of pottery by taking classes on his days off. His latest creation? A wholly original noodle bowl, cast in a beautiful blue glaze.