When he was a young boy, Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai wanted to become a chef so that he would never go hungry. Born in Kagoshima, he began learning his craft in Osaka at a restaurant in the Shin Osaka Hotel when he was 17.

But Sakai began to rebel against the culinary world's feudalistic system of apprenticeship. At 19, he traveled alone to Perth, Australia, to build his skills at the Hotel Oriental. After a year and a half in Australia he returned to Japan, spending three years studying at Ginza Shiki with the late Fujio Shito, his predecessor as the leader of French cooking in Japan. He later worked as a chef at the restaurants Coco Palms in Aoyama and John Kanaya in Roppongi. When he was 38, Sakai opened his own restaurant--La Rochelle--in Aoyama. Several years later he moved the restaurant to Shibuya, where it remains today.

While retaining the essence of traditional French cuisine, Sakai's groundbreaking Japanese-French style incorporates Japan's finest coooking techniques. His dishes fuse the flavors of Japan's four seasons with a French "esprit." Because of their exquisite detail and use of color, his dishes are often compared to paintings, earning him the nickname "Delacroix of French cooking." Sakai's imagination is often sparked by something he glimpses in the kitchen that day. He is truly a genius in chef's clothing.

From the foodtv.com bio.

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