KEIICHIRO KOBATA （sasuraichef）
Resident of Italy: September 1998 – March 2011
Keiichiro graduated from college in Kagoshima as a systems engineer, and moved to Tokyo to work. His passion for food led him to pursue a career change and a traineeship as a chef. After 3 years of training at an Italian restaurant in Ote-machi in Tokyo, he left for Italy for further study. Arriving in Italy in autumn 1998 he worked in Rome, Tuscany, Umbria and Molise. Keiichiro started work in Tuscany at the four-star hotel “Il Patriarca” in autumn 1999. He spent 3 years at the hotel restaurant “I Salotti” before being appointed second chef in 2002, with the restaurant being awarded a Michelin star in 2003. In 2005 he progressed to head chef and kept the Michelin star. In 2009, Keiichiro moved to “Belcore” in Florence where he met Yossy. They married and returned to Kagoshima in March 2011.
Keiichiro has a strong passion for artistic expression. He has participated in many pumpkin-carving competitions, many of which he has won or achieved a podium placing. He still continues this pastime to this day, in part to hone his artistic skills.
YOSHIE KOBATA （yossy）
Resident of Italy: November 1999 – March 2011
In autumn 1999, Yossy took a journey to Italy to pursue Italian language studies. She has a keen passion for Italian art and craft. This led her to the door of “Firenze Mosaic” in Florence, in search of traditional mosaic tile craft.
In 2003, she founded her own mosaic brand “La Fanciulla”. Her works were highly sought-after and exhibited at Italian Fairs in Japanese department stores (Yamakataya – Kagoshima, Umeda Yokyu – Osaka, Mituskoshi Nihonbashi – Tokyo, etc.). In May 2004, Yossy started working at “Belcore” restaurant in Florence where she became a manager in 2007. She also took part-time work interpreting and translating to support economic and product exhibitions between Florence and Kyoto Prefecture. Her expertise allowed her to help Japanese businesses seeking investments in Italy. In March 2011, Yossy married Sasurai-Chef, Keiichiro, and left Italy to return home to Kagoshima with plans to begin a restaurant.
As international travel has become easier in recent years, there has been a decline in long-term traditional culinary apprenticeships in favor of short visits to learn a particular skill. We believe that our 13 years in Italy has provided us with not only the skills, but also the passion. While in Italy, we immersed ourselves in the culture; we spoke Italian and prepared traditional Italian food. Now back in Japan, we bring both the skills and passion of our experience to Kagoshima. We hope that this fusion of Italian food prepared using the fresh, quality local produce of our area will help you love both Kagoshima and Italy even more.
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