“I want my food to create big emotions and big memories,” says Chef Guillaume Bracaval, who brings Michelin-starred artistry and a passion for impeccable ingredients to est, the French-Japanese restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi. “There should be a ‘wow’ moment when you take the first bite, not just when you look at the beautiful presentation. When a guest comes to me and says, ‘I still remember the taste of a dish you made five years ago,’ then I know I have succeeded.”
Born in a tiny village in northern France, Bracaval found his earliest inspiration in his family’s vegetable gardens and farmyard. At 15, he began a rigorous culinary education at local cooking schools, then went on to hone his craft at 3-Michelin-star restaurants in Paris, working with luminaries such as Chef Alain Passard, Chef Christian Le Squer, and Chef Bernard Pacaud. With a wealth of experience under his toque, Bracaval joined the 1-Michelin-star L’Agapé in 2009, where he created monthly menus around freshly procured ingredients. In 2012, he was handpicked by Chef Michel Troisgros to be executive chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo, where he became known for drawing out the full-bodied flavours of ingredients by the adept use of citrus, vinegar, olive oil, herbs, and spices.
Now, at est, Bracaval presents innovative French cuisine, inspired by a deep respect for produce from the Japanese terroir. “Having grown up in the countryside, I understand the journey from farm to plate. We work with the highest-quality local producers and design our menu around seasonal availability,” he explains. Travelling extensively across Japan, Bracaval has tracked down the finest ingredients for his kitchen – from fresh-caught fish supplied by a fisherman on Kyushu island to more than fifty varieties of citrus grown on a farm in Wakayama prefecture.