To be a chef means to be dedicated to one’s job and be passionate about cooking. Constant learning is the only key to success for a chef in a challenging and competitive world like that of international cuisine.
Chef Erick FH Oshiro, also known as chef Zuzumo, believes that though the competition is increasing at the international level, the language of every kitchen remains the same. Community recently caught up with the chef, who is visiting Doha from Peru to train the staff and set the menu for b-lounge at Ritz-Carlton.
Born to a Japanese mother and Peruvian father in Lima, 36-year-old chef got his nickname Zuzumo from his grandfather. “I spent most of my childhood in Japan. I, however, completed my high school studies in Peru. My mother is also a chef who runs a restaurant in Lima. It was in 2002 that I started learning French cuisine. However, I changed it totally and started working for Osaka – a Japanese restaurant in Peru. The company provided me the opportunity to work in different countries.”
After working for the restaurant for many years, Zuzumo decided to try his hand in the Middle East. “I went to Dubai in 2015 and opened a Japanese restaurant there. I accepted to take on the challenges of the new market. The b-lounge is going to be my 10th opening in the Middle East.
“The market here in Doha is growing and very challenging. It is getting very competitive. B-lounge concept is all Asian. The lounge offers international cuisine focusing more on Asian cuisines from Japan, Thailand, China, Indonesia, etc.
“The menu includes fresh sushi, sashimi, ceviche, robata charcoal grill served alongside freshly-caught fish and meats that come cooked to perfection. Signature dishes include Grill Salmon, Ama Misokosho Black Cod, Tajima Waguy Rib-Eye Steak, Thai Red Curry Shrimps, Grilled Lamb Chops, Miso Eggplant, Singapore Chili Prawns, Chicken Kung Pao and Wok Seared Cantonese Beef Tenderloin.”
Zuzumo believes that dedication to the profession can make one a successful chef. “The most important thing that you need to have is dedication and consistency in what you are doing. It is more important than the skill. With practice and dedication, you can become the master with the passage of time.”
The chef argues that it is not easy to satisfy every customer. “In my opinion it is difficult to satisfy your customers 100 percent. However, the goal of a chef should be to make over 80 percent of the customers happy. Here, we try to make the customers of diverse backgrounds happy not only with the food but with the whole experience of the lounge.”
For Zuzumo feedback is very important from his customers and team alike. “It is very important to work with multicultural staff. Diverse people bring their experiences with them. Their experience and feedback help me improve myself as a chef.”
The chef tries to diversify the menu for multicultural customers. “We try to adapt to local flavours. We really need to work hard to come up with menus acceptable for the local people. We need to research and adapt to the market.
“Cultural things are different, of course, but in term of food I think the language is the same in all kitchens. Kitchen language is going to be the same in every restaurant.”
Zuzumo does not look for building a legacy for himself. He only enjoys what he does. “For me, it is more a kind of enjoyment in what I am doing. Slowly but surely, I will develop my legacy. I am thinking only about enjoying my work.”
The chef plans to travel to more and more countries to learn more. “To gain more experience, I plan to travel more. In the end, all chefs dream to have their own restaurants.”
Zuzumo advises the younger chefs to be humble. “Sometimes we have to digest negative comments. We should not be egoistic.”
Separately, Nabil Souhail, vice president of b-lounge in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and USA, said: “I believe b-lounge is a new concept in Doha. We are showcasing our expertise in terms of restaurants and night life. We started almost 25 years ago and we have our branches in 25 countries. We are very proud to partner with Ritz-Carlton. The concept is all about experience – food, drinks, atmosphere and music. We will be bringing famous international DJs here.”
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