Chef Jolbi Huacho of Clay explains his meteoric rise and passion for Nikkei cooking.
What is Nikkei Concept in terms of food? And how did you progress from sushi to a more fusion style of cooking?
Nikkei is a cuisine that was born in Peru thanks to Japanese immigration. It is based on Peruvian and Japanese supplies, respecting their techniques, culture and traditions. The end result is a mixture and explosion of flavours. However, this mixture is well balanced and that makes the difference. When I started in Nikkei cuisine, my goal was to develop as an Itamae – sushi chef. Nevertheless, as I gained more experience, I realised that the only way to exploit my full potential as a chef was to focus on fusion cuisine. This is because through innovation and blending of flavours and techniques, we can take Nikkei cuisine to the next level.
You have achieved the position of head chef in just eight years. To what do you attribute such speedy success?
I started my path cooking at a very young age, and I had the opportunity to work in restaurants in multiple countries. These experiences were decisive for my training as a chef, so I always seek to get the most out of every opportunity that comes my way. I consider that one of my main virtues is discipline, but what makes me stand out is my creativity.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I see myself as a prestigious Peruvian Chef known in the world in the field of Nikkei cuisine and also expanding the Clay brand in different countries.
Please tell us about your signature dish. How was it developed and why should people try it?
Black Cod Yuzu Miso Kosho, one of Clay’s signature dishes, is made of miso, Japanese yuzu kosho and Peruvian chili peppers. We finish cooking the black cod in the clay oven and then we obtain a soft fish with caramelised miso sauce and a smoky flavour. It is served with a quinoa and edamame salad, which will provide freshness and a balance of flavours. ✤