Focusing on pure, simple and seasonal ingredients, Chef Hideaki Sato’s career-long philosophy may sound nonchalant and easygoing, but executing robust and intense flavours requires strategic precision. He is known for experimenting with unusual ingredients through trial and error, and documenting his progress over social media. Ingredient selection is just the beginning of a rewarding journey that often leads to execution of one-of-a-kind dishes that leave an unforgettable impression amongst guests.
At Ta Vie旅, Japanese and French cooking techniques create a unique and sophisticated east-meets-west adventure. Chef Satos passion is driven by innovation, and his awards attest to his culinary finesse.
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This interviews grants us a peek into his 15 year career, and Chef Sato discusses his special partnership with Maison Mumm as he becomes their first Asia ambassador. The significance is personal for the chef, as the Champagne producer was the only Maison he visited in France, at the beginning of his career.
Now, he has designed a remarkable dinner, curated with RSRV, and it is available only for August. Ta Vie旅 invites guests to try the limited champagne paired menu ($4088 plus 10% service charge), filled with rare cuvées that are ready to be opened.
Was your dream always to be a chef? How did you come up with the idea of Ta Vie旅, and who do you consider your biggest culinary inspirations?
My dream was to be come either a football player, a fashion designer or a novelist. Becoming a chef was never the career choice I had in mind when I was younger. I was so picky when it came to meals, I didn't want to eat vegetables or even pork.
Later in my life, I got a part time job in a restaurant and when the chef made staff meals, I’d make myself eat everything - even if I disliked the ingredients. After a few months of trying so many different ingredients it helped me become very open minded to cooking. It was so fascinating that I decided to pursue my career as a Chef.
Ta Vie旅 reflects my culinary journey combining French, Japanese and Chinese cuisines together. My biggest influence is my mentor Chef Seiji Yamamoto, who owns Ryugin. It’s a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tokyo, and all the high standards I’ve created for myself are directly from Chef Yamamoto's workstyle.
Ta Vie旅 is a fan favourite and considered a Michelin institution. What has made you and the restaurant successful, and what are some the biggest learning lessons for anybody who wants to start their own fine-dining eatery?
As a chef you face a lot of stress and pressure in the kitchen and publicly, even at the beginning of your career. However, there are some moments I’m blessed with, such as an amazing review, awards, or being proud of a well-executed creation, and this is where it feels truly rewarding.
But when the celebratory moments pass and you face stress and pressure again, you must deal with it head on in the kitchen. Passion and patience are what you need for your career to be successful.
GH Mumm is known for creating sophisticated cuvées and are known for its bold, rigorous craftsmanship and now you are a partner and ambassador. What attracted you to the Maison and what are some other events will you be doing with them throughout the year?
Mumm is a special for me because it represents my first time visiting the champagne region in France 15 years ago. It was a memorable experience and as I reflect on my journey since then, it's an honour to partner with them and introduce the RSRV experience to guests. The August menu is our first event, but we will plan more with RSRV later in the year.
You and the team are known for experimentation and combining contrasting cuisines together. What made you choose Hong Kong for Ta Vie旅's location and has there ever been a dish that’s permanently stayed on your menu? What was the hardest dish to execute in the past?
I chose Hong Kong because of its status as an affluent, international city and how much diversity there is. Chinese cuisine requires amazing skill and knowledge to create impeccable dishes. For me, the hardest dish I’ve tried to make is roasting the perfect Peking duck. Since 2019, I have tried to tweak this dish over 90 times.
For the August RSRV menu, we’ve added the abalone civet. It was a signature on our set menu, but its been a long time since I’ve served it. This signature dish is a perfect fit for the Blanc de Noirs, introducing our role as GH MUMM partner and ambassador on this first RSRV menu.
The peach dessert is usually reserved for birthdays, but I decided to upgrade it and add an unexpected twist for the RSRV menu with the peach compote, fresh raspberry jelly and granita under the candy and mousse to match the Blanc de Blancs.
What are some notes, flavours, and textures that guests can expect with your RSRV champagne pairing menu? What do you consider seasonal ingredients that are used in this menu, and what are some of your favourite cuvées?
The RSRV menu we have created is well-balanced, so you can enjoy different flavours and textures within each course. For each course the cooking techniques are different, incorporating steaming, charcoal grilling, deep frying and pan frying, with some ingredients left raw or slightly torched. Everything we’ve used for the menu is in season, like the shrimp, peas, Hokki clams, Taiwanese bamboo, peach and Miyazaki mango.
My favourite cuvée must be the Blanc de Noirs. It is complex, rich, elegant, and a wine that is most powerful in flavour whilst also smelling crisp to the nose.
Last question – travel is slowly getting easier for all of us. If you were to travel anywhere in the world, what two places would you want to go to for a new culinary experience?
I would want to go back to France as it has been a very long time since I’ve been. I love fresh cuisine and wine. Also, New Orleans is a place I have been dreaming about for a long time. I am so interested in Cajun and Creole food, and of course I love jazz!
Ta Vie x Maison Mumm RSRV Champagne Pairing Menu
The menu consists of eight courses in total, paired with 4 exclusive RSRV Champagnes.
Date: 1-31 Aug, 2022
Price: HKD$4,080 (+10% service charge) per person
Enquire about bookings by calling the restaurant on 2668 6488
📍 The Pottinger Hotel, 74 Queens Road Central (Entrance from Wellington Street), 2668 6488