Cover Natsuko Shoji of Été (Photo: Asia's 50 Best)

Japanese chef Natsuko Shoji of Été in Tokyo will be honoured with the award at the upcoming Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 on March 29

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants has named Japanese chef Natsuko Shoji of Été in Tokyo the recipient of the Asia’s Best Female Chef award for 2022. The chef is highly regarded for her creativity and perfectionism and known particularly for bringing fashion and gastronomy together in her exquisite cakes.

"I’m deeply grateful for this award and would like to express my gratitude to the people who have supported me,” said Shoji. “I hope to be a role model to other female chefs in Japan and trust this award will motivate them to follow their passions. I would also like to honour the other chefs who have mentored me throughout my career and inspired me with their craftsmanship and artistry.”

Shoji has come a long way from crafting cream puffs as a teenager, when her interest in the culinary arts reportedly began. Her pursuit of a culinary career started at French restaurant Florilège in Tokyo where she rose through the ranks rapidly and was named sous chef in just three years.

In 2014, Shoji opened Été, which launched as a tart shop before transforming into a four-seat, invitation-only restaurant. For some time she remained known for her high fashion-inspired intricate seasonal pastries and in 2020 was named Asia's Best Pastry Chef, also by Asia's 50 Best.

Été underwent another expansion in 2019 to offer six seats from which diners could enjoy a 10-course menu that saw the French culinary skills Shoji had honed at Florilège on display alongside seasonal Japanese ingredients, and further confirmed her talents stretched outside the realm of pastry. 

Over the years Shoji's culinary prowess has been praised by celebrities and chefs alike, from David Beckham to René Redzepi and Ferran Adrià.

Chef Daniel Calvert, formerly of Belon in Hong Kong, collaborated with Shoji prior to the opening of his new restaurant Sézanne at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. Shortly after the announcement, he told Tatler Dining, "Natsuko is amazing. I'm so happy for her. It's difficult to find someone so hardworking and so dedicated to their business and their team every day. She works so hard and her cooking gets better and better every time I eat it. She’s created something out of nothing and I couldn’t be more proud for her."

Shoji is the first Japanese chef to receive the Best Female Chef award from Asia's 50 Best and joins the prestigious rank of recipients that includes Thailand’s Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava (2013), Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun (2018) and Garima Arora (2019); Taiwan’s Lanshu Chen (2014); Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau (2015) and May Chow (2017); the Philippines' Margarita Forés (2016); South Korea’s Cho Hee-sook (2020); and Shanghai-based DeAille Tam (2021).

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