Kimitaka Azuma was born in 1954 on the Southern Japanese island of Kyushu. He was raised, with his two brothers, by both his parents and grandparents in a bustling household where there were many mouths to feed.
Kimitaka entered the world of Japanese cuisine when he was only 16 years old. The strict almost feudal culture of his senior co-workers attracted him at an early age. As he served his apprenticeship Kimitaka came to be regarded as family to his co-workers. His natural skill and technique in the kitchen was quickly recognized by his peers and superiors.
The young Kimitaka was passionate about his new career. He would often work past his assigned hours, arriving early each morning and leaving late into the night. His superiors ordered strict obedience. ''The answer always had to be 'Yes'! I could never contemplate saying 'No. The way of the Japanese culture meant that if a superior said that the sky was red – when clearly it is not – I still had to agree!” It was in this environment that he first realized his dedication, diligence and passion for cooking.
At the age of eighteen Kimitaka moved from his home town to further his career; he worked in Tokyo for 2 years and then spent 1 year at the Akamon Japanese Restaurant in a Bangkok, Thailand. Returning to Japan, Kimitaka based himself in Miyazaki, a well known “foodie” district. Here he worked at the Royal Hotel for 3 years and then for 4 years at the Century Heian-kaku. It as here that Kimitaka was appointed Master Chef of Japanese Cuisine and Executive Chef.
In 1990 Japanese tourism in Australia was booming, and as a result Japanese cuisine was introduced to Australians. Japanese chefs were highly sought after, Kimitaka, seeing the need, brought his team of 4 Chefs to Australia. Kimitaka, attracted by Sydney's fresh produce and growing restaurant culture, made the difficult decision to make Australia his new home. He enjoyed the pleasant climate, culture and the Australian people. Also the opportunity to deliver to Australians a cuisine they seemed to know little about was overwhelming. Kimitaka received his Australian Permanent Residence in 1995.
At that time Japanese cuisine in Sydney consisted of only Sushi, Tempura and Teriyaki Chicken. His passion and independent spirit convinced him to open a Japanese restaurant with no Sushi or Teriyaki on the menu. In 1996 he opened his self-named restaurant, Azuma, in Crows Nest Sydney. The menu was of authentic Japanese cuisine, dishes that had not been seen in Sydney before.
Since the opening of his first restaurant Kimitaka has relocated to a much bigger, more sophisticated location in the CBD. His menu now includes sushi, sashimi and is well known for his signature Azuma Nigiri. He has opened two Ramen noodle shops called TonTon and most recently, in late 2008, the opening of a second Azuma restaurant, Kushiyaki – Azuma, took place. His passion to deliver new and dynamic Japanese cuisine that is both traditional and innovative drives him to expand his business, in the hopes that all Sydneysiders will be able to enjoy the experience of “real” Japanese.
Kimitaka's philosophy has always been to use the freshest ingredients to create simply delicious food. "While these days, we can see the development of modern-fusion Japanese cuisine I think it is a shame to use too much sauce or overcook the products." His cuisine says: "Simple is best!"
Master Chef Kimitaka Azuma displays a dedication not known to many. His skills and techniques in the art of Japanese cuisine are renowned not only in Sydney and Australia but around the world.