Belon’s Ex-Head Chef Daniel Calvert Moves to Tokyo to Open Sézanne
As the former head chef of neo-Parisian restaurant Belon in Hong Kong, which placed at No. 4 at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2020, 33-year-old Daniel Calvert was on top of his game. But instead of doing what any sensible chef would have done, which was to continue helming this popular establishment, he packed his bags instead and moved to Tokyo, Japan in search of culinary inspiration.
“I had been using Japanese ingredients in Hong Kong but would like to know more about their provenance,” explains Calvert, who arrived in Tokyo last November and has already explored many prefectures in Japan. He often visits Toyosu Fish Market, too, to discover “Sushi Saito” quality fish a well as meet and develop close relationships with seafood suppliers.
With a mastery of classic European culinary techniques, he learned at Michelin-starred establishments such as Per Se in New York (where he was the youngest sous chef) and Epicure in Paris, as well as a deeper knowledge of Japanese produce and ingredients, he is all set to open his first restaurant in Japan, Sézanne, at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. It’s named after a small town in the Champagne region, where he has fond memories of visiting his grandparents at their holiday home.
Ahead of the summer 2021 opening, Calvert enthuses that he has been visiting many restaurants in Japan to “adopt my palate to the Japanese flavour balance.” He was quick to note that he doesn’t want to do “easy fusion” where he just uses Japanese ingredients. “It needs to be based on one’s understanding of the culture.”
Calvert offered excited gourmands a sneak peek of Sézanne with a collaboration menu between him and Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2020 Natsuko Shoji, who is behind the famed six-seat omakase restaurant Été in the Shibuya neighbourhood.
“We have many things in common such as a deep respect for craftsmanship,” Shoji tells Tatler Dining, and it was reflected in their 14-course menu comprising their signature dishes. One of the most impressive dishes on the menu was the saba (mackerel) escabeche, created by Calvert who learned how to cure fish from a sushi chef. Another stellar creation of his was the Drunken Chicken, inspired by the famous Chinese dish he tasted in Hong Kong. “Chinese wine is usually used for this dish, but I found a similarity with Jura wine,” adds Calvert, who marinated the chicken in Jura wine for a week. The marination was used as the base for the triple chicken consommé.
With a couple more weeks to go before Sézanne officially opens its doors, Calvert shares that he would be serving “dishes like sudachi and Petrossian caviar, and saba”. He is committed to changing his menu regularly depending on what’s available in the market, to ensure he has something new and exciting to offer guests.
In terms of the restaurant design, Calvert has tapped designer André Fu to create a calm and serene restaurant that takes cues from a zen garden. And in order to express the minimal beauty of Japanese culture, he will showcase his creations in simple Christofle white plates and Baccarat glasses.
Calvert has also assembled some of the renowned names in the F&B industry to ensure a top-notch service at Sézanne. Simone Macri, ex-restaurant manager of Jaan by Kirk Westaway, has joined the team as its maître d'hôtel.
With a driven chef and an equally talented team, Sézanne is ready to make a splash in Tokyo’s vibrant scene.