[From March Issue 2012]
Patisserie es Koyama
The confectionary shop Patisserie es Koyama is located in a new residential development in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture, in an area rich in natural beauty. Ever since its establishment in 2003, their Swiss roll sponge cake “Koyama Roll” has been a popular choice for customers, who even to this day form long lines outside the store. “I chose this location because I wanted to create a product from the finest materials in a natural setting,” says owner and patisserie, KOYAMA Susumu.
In consideration of those queuing up, many of whom have traveled long distances to visit the store, there’s also a café and chocolate shop. Fruits, such as blueberries, grow in the spacious garden outside and benches, and so forth, make for a relaxing space.
In October 2011, Patisserie es Koyama debuted at Salon de Chocolat, a chocolate festival held in Paris, France. There, Koyama’s chocolates, which used ingredients unique to Japan, such as green tea powder and soybean paste, drew a lot of interest. He became the first foreign chocolatier to receive “five tablettes” (the equivalent of three Michelin stars), the Highest Honor presented by the prestigious Chocolat Club that hosted the show and was also the first to receive the Most Outstanding Foreign Chocolatier award.
Koyama presented five types of chocolate to the judges, to be eaten like kaiseki ryouri (a selection of small dishes eaten one after the other), just like a work of art. Each dish bore a detailed explanatory caption. “I wanted to use ingredients that no one has used in France before, so I chose to use the daitokuji natto (a type of fermented beans made in Kyoto) in one of the chocolates,” he explains.
“I never had any overseas training either, but I think that was good because I was able to work on my pieces without obsessing over trying to satisfy the tastes of non-Japanese people. The judges commented that they felt like they were all being entertained at a dinner party. They also valued the meticulous approach to work, that Japanese pride themselves on,” continues Koyama.
“FüKAN” is a booklet that can be found in Koyama’s store. It was published with the aim of motivating the young staff working at the store. The booklet features interviews that Koyama has conducted with people from various fields including sushi chefs and television writers.
“I often tell my staff that a sense of playfulness and flexibility is essential for work, but that this is something born after fully mastering their art. I do not like to use the word ‘dream,’ because it has connotations of escapism. I would rather set an example to the younger generation by demonstrating how to achieve goals one by one,” says Koyama.
Koyama is not thinking of expanding his business to other locations, but is planning to create an outlet selling dagashi – a traditional form of Japanese sweets – aimed at children, on the premises. “Growing up in Kyoto, I had pleasurable experiences in dagashi and miso sweet shops, and that formed the foundation of my manufacturing process. I want to fill our cabinets with good quality petite cakes and cookies. It would make me very happy if the experience of eating my confectionery eventually inspires these children when they too become adults.” It seems that there are no limits to Koyama’s ambitions for the future.
Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko