Ideas and stories lie at the beginning of every project. So what drove these project leaders to launch these projects in the first place?
In this series of articles, we will be introducing the stories of projects and businesses that we think you should drop by during your visit to Japan that particularly captured the hearts of Helping Dragon.
Today we’ll be looking at a local chef from Niseko, which is quickly growing into an international city, called Seino and his restaurant Jai La Patate.
Owner and Chef at Jai La Patate
Seino is from Kutchan (town next to Niseko).
After graduating high school, he then went on to graduate from cooking school in Sapporo.
After gathering his skills in the Maruyama area of Sapporo, which is famous for its cuisine, he opened his own restaurant in his hometown of Kutchan in 2017.
The food of a chef that knows his hometown that can be enjoyed in expansive natural surroundings
A river babbles close by and you can clearly see Mt. Yotei from the window.
Here, all alone in the glory of nature, stands the restaurant Jai La Patate.
It’s a must-go for anyone who wants to enjoy a slow meal in complete serenity.
Seino’s cooking is delicious!
Having trained in the gourmet Maruyama district of Sapporo, his style of serving delicious, simple local ingredients when they’re at their most flavorful is loved by the locals here.
And since the locals love it, there’s no way that foodies from overseas should miss this gem.
The answer that Seino gives to the question of “What has made you happy since starting the restaurant?” perfectly explains why his restaurant is so popular.
“I love it when customers keep coming back. An international customer who visited last year came back this year and booked a table eight times during a two-week stay! It’s like having a family, I always tell him “Welcome home!” when he comes back and we always have a good catch up when he’s here.”Seino
Seino loves cooking and he’s the kind of person that would carry on preparing a meal with a torch in one hand and a spoon in the other in a blackout.
It all started with one word from his mother: “Delicious”
Seino’s interest in cooking was first piqued when he made something for his mother and felt the happiness of hearing her tell him how delicious it was.
After graduating high school and then cooking school, Seino trained at a number of restaurants mainly in the Maruyama district, learning Japanese and French cuisines.
It’s also around the time that he met his future wife.
Seino’s wife simply admires the passion and energy he puts into his restaurant and spending time with his family.
“He looks after our kid even as he manages the restaurant, it’s honestly amazing. He’s so serious and straightforward with his cooking. To be brutally honest…sometimes I’m amazed that he’s come this far after so much strife.”Seino’s wife
I nod along to that comment too.
You can tell from one taste of Seino’s cooking just how much time and effort he put into it and the price of the meals is extremely good for the quality of the food served there.
Out of all of Seino’s food, I always find myself coming back to the potato dishes, a vegetable which forms part of the name of his restaurant, for their deliciousness, no matter how many times I have them!
Niseko and Kutchan are famous for their potatoes and the cuisine that allows potatoes to mature for 540 days always cheers me up.
Seino’s wife being an experienced patisserie, Seino’s pastry making skills are also something to note.
Honesty brought opportunity
Going back to his days in training, when he was working at the well-known restaurant “Banquet” in Maruyama, Seino constantly felt impatient.
In the city, there are so many eateries competing with each other and he began to think that working in such a frantic environment may not be for him…
He began to worry that he was becoming numb to the world around him.
The human relationships of the big city and a tendency to overwork was causing him incredible amounts of stress, but his superior at Banquet, Mr. Wakasugi, was watching the clumsy yet earnest chef.
It was Mr. Wakasugi that remembered that Seino’s dream was to open a restaurant in his hometown, and introduced him to the opportunity to open his restaurant in its current location.
When we asked him why he launched Jai La Patate, Seino gave us this answer.
“Because in the town where I was born I knew that I could be myself and more than anything that I would enjoy my work.
I don’t want people just to visit because my food is good, I want them to be able to experience the food and experiences that my town uniquely has to offer.
I really hope that with repeated visits, this place will becomes a destination where my customers genuinely enjoy being rather than just a simple tourist spot.”Seino
On the path to a better restaurant
I tried asking Seino about any current issues he was experiencing.
“I want to enhance this entire operation and have even more customers come to experience our restaurant.
The issue right now is raising people who can form the foundation for this.”Seino
I think that Seino loves cooking twice as much as anyone else.
I always look forward to seeing him again and thinking about what he’ll cook for me this time on the drive to his restaurant.
Of course I wish for more and more people to become regulars at the restaurant, but I also hope that Seino can find the right staff who can support him in creating an even better restaurant.
Click here for more details about the restaurant.
Jai La Patate is looking for experienced servers to help the team.
If you are passionate in restaurant service, please turn in your CV on their homepage.