• Sasha Huang

Edwin Guzman, Chef de Cuisine at Zoku Restaurant & Terrace, on His Culinary Journey

INTERVIEW



Nestled inside boutique hotel The Hari, Zoku Restaurant & Terrace welcomes you into a gastronomic journey of comfort and hospitality. The establishment conceived its name from the Japanese word 'zoku' which translates to 'clan' in English, representing the intricate culinary cultures of Japan.


The tasting menu is crafted by Chef de Cuisine, Edwin Guzman, who delicately adds his personal modern twist into traditional Japanese cuisines. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Chef Guzman began training at just 19 years old and has worked professionally at many award-winning restaurants. From his previous experience at Maido, Chef Guzman found his passion and curiousity in modern Japanese cuisine. Here, we chat with Chef Guzman about his culinary philosophy and journey.



1. What does cooking mean to you?


Cooking is an art; it is a combination of passion, creativity, challenges and union. Cooking, to me, is more than simply the action. It’s important to look at the whole food chain holistically and understand how to respect and appreciate every component. From the farmers and fishermen to the suppliers and distributors to the restaurant and kitchen team, we have an opportunity to transform humble ingredients and elevate them at a customer level that honours everyone behind the scenes.



2. Where do you find inspiration for your menu?


Inspiration strikes in a variety of ways, but the best would be receiving and learning about new ingredients. Understanding an ingredient’s place of origin, history, seasonality, production methods, and unique background story allows me to incorporate my personal background and skills to create something unique.



3. What was the best advice you have ever received?


Throughout my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of receiving insightful and thoughtful advice from friends, family, and industry peers. However, one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is from one of my mentors, “Don’t cook for the prizes, cook for yourself, your clients and your team. When they are happy, everything will come on its own.”



4. Can you describe your philosophy?


It is everchanging; even after almost 12 years into my journey as a chef, my philosophy continues to be built. However, one of the underlying values I most believe in is respecting every single product and ingredient, and also respecting your team. Guiding them, mentoring them, and helping them grow professionally gives me a great sense of personal achievement.



5. What's the most creative dish/cuisine you have yet to try?


I have great interest in learning more about Chinese and Indian cuisines. I personally love both because of the complexity and variety of ingredients available, many of which I may not have even seen or heard of. Then even within China and India, you can further delve into sub-regions and provinces, with each also having distinct and unique flavour profiles. It would be a great honour for me to one day hone my skills and navigate through the intricacies of both cuisines.



6. What makes the dining experience at Zoku so unique?


As a Peruvian chef, I have a breadth of knowledge when it comes to Japanese cuisine. As such, I love the idea that I can craft something unique at Zoku using Japanese ingredients and techniques infused with flavors distinctive to my own culture and experience. This personal touch is what I believe makes Zoku stand out.


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Book your own table at Zoku Restaurant HERE


Address: 330 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong | Website: thehari.com/hong-kong/the-hari-hotel-hong-kong-eat-drink/zoku/ | Phone: +852 2129 0338 | Email: zoku@thehari.com | Instagram: @theharihk @zoku.hk | Facebook: @TheHariHK