Q&A: Kaori Simpson – Harajuku Kitchen
Head Chef talks festive food as Christmas approaches
How does your restaurant change in look and atmosphere in December? What effect are you hoping for?
There's always such a buzz in atmosphere at Harajuku Kitchen in the run up to Christmas. We have a lot of people who book their Christmas parties with us and everyone's always really excited about the festive season. I think people get fed up of the usual turkey and all the trimmings (and the resulting waistline!), so a Christmas party with healthy, fresh, Japanese food really appeals to people wanting something a bit different.
What are the challenges in catering for larger groups and parties? What works? What doesn't work?
The main challenge of catering for large groups is timing. Everything at Harajuku Kitchen is cooked freshly to order, so if 25 people order at the same time, it can place immense pressure on our chefs. Fortunately Harajuku Kitchen employs authentically trained chefs, with years of experience, so this is never an issue.
Anything new and exciting likely to be on your December menu this year?
We're keeping our Christmas specials under wraps at the moment! Let's just say it'll involve turkey with a Japanese twist!
Any top tips for cooking for a big group at home?
Preparation, preparation, preparation! It can't be emphasised enough. Get all your vegetables prepared, potatoes ready and your turkey dressed and stuffed before guests or family arrive. It can take a weight off your mind if all you have to concentrate on is the timings and cooking. If your guests like a drink, make sure their glasses are topped up and they'll never notice if you're having a panic attack in the kitchen!
OK, a stalk of fresh brussels sprouts has just arrived in the kitchen. What do you do next?
Roast them and spice up the flavour with a brushed on teriyaki glaze.
What's your favourite day of the Christmas season? What are you likely to be eating?
Oh, it has to be Christmas Day. It's a rare day all our staff have the same day off, so it's nice to see them go off and enjoy time off with their families, after what is always a hectic run up to Christmas.