Executive Pastry Chef
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2017
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay; The Ritz-Carlton Doha; Patisseries & Gourmandises by Stephane Glacier M.O.F; The Ritz-Carlton Toronto; The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
- Kyoto, Japan
- Kyoto Pastry Art College
- English and Japanese
Pastry chef or chocolatier? Yusuke Aoki brings together the best of both delectable worlds. Winner of several global accolades, including top honours at the only international pastry competition in the US, Yusuke’s career began at a French pastry boutique in Shiga, Japan. After cutting his teeth at hotels in Tokyo and Toronto, he moved to Paris to hone his skills in pastries, wedding cakes, desserts, chocolate pralines, showpieces and sugar decorations, before transferring to Ritz-Carlton in the Middle East.
In 2017, Four Seasons came knocking, keen to recruit the confectionary wizard who was starting to make serious waves – winner of the Global Pastry Chef Challenge in Qatar (2015) and recipient of a special award at the Global Pastry Chef Challenge in Greece (2016). As Executive Pastry Chef of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Yusuke launched a custom-designed, temperature-controlled patisserie, offering diners dainty French desserts that popped with tropical Balinese flavours.
The icing on the cake came in November 2018, when Yusuke won the World #1 title at the Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition (C3) in New York City, wowing the jury during a gruelling five-hour public cook-off. Drawing inspiration from his homeland, Yusuke’s winning “Samurai” chocolate dessert paired Valrhona chocolate with cinnamon kombu seaweed ice cream, red wine fig confiture, fresh fig and a touch of Japanese sansho pepper.
“I entered this competition because I wanted to challenge myself,” says Yusuke. “There’s a different pressure when you compete, with hundreds of people watching you as you work and the judges walking around taking notes over five hours. Going through the process made me stronger.”
Now, overseeing the pastry program at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, Yusuke provides the perfect sweet finish at Pigneto and The Lounge – both located on the Hotel’s 39th level, with sweeping views of the Imperial Palace and cityscapes. Pigneto showcases Yusuke’s solo creativity and finesse to the fullest, while at The Lounge he teams up with Japanese wagashi artists to give a fresh spin to teatime traditions, delivering an ultra-glamorous ensemble of fine French pastries, delectable cakes and traditional Japanese desserts. (Diners at Four Seasons can also sample an extra-special pastry inspired by Chef’s award-winning Valrhona dessert.)
Back home in Japan after 10 years, Yusuke is eager to bring his international perspective to the city’s confectionary landscape; think “Balinese-inspired French pastries that appeal to the Japanese palate.” He is especially excited about what this means for celebrations at Four Seasons. “We’re going way beyond run-of-the-mill cake and ice cream for our banquets and buffets,” he notes enthusiastically. “Expect handcrafted, inspired desserts that really set the tone for festivity in terms of flavours, detailing and plating.”
With an exceptionally strong background in wedding cakes, Yusuke also takes the lead in crafting breath-taking centrepieces for weddings at Four Seasons. He likes to sit down and chat with each couple, drawing inspiration from their love story and personal style to conceptualise a one-of-a-kind wedding cake to elevate the special day.
At the end of the day, what is Chef Yusuke’s favourite part of the job? “The ‘whoa’ look on someone’s face when they taste my dessert makes all the effort worth it.”