A First Japanese Three-star Michelin Chef in France

Kei Kobayashi, a 42-year-old French chef and owner of “KEI” in Paris, became the first Japanese-born to win three Michelin stars in France.

During the MICHELIN Guide France 2020 Star Revelation ceremony on January 27, 2020, Kobayashi said, “I truly respect France. France has accepted me, a foreign chef. Thank you so much.” in French.

Kobayashi was born in Nagano; his father was a chef in traditional Japanese cuisine. Kei Kobayashi moved to France in 1998 to train in the several of France’s most prestigious restaurants after working at French restaurants in Tokyo. From 2003, he worked with the French master Alan Ducasse at his three-star Michelin restaurant and was appointed as a sous-chef.

He opened KEI in 2011, and received one Michelin star in 2012 and two stars in 2017. The MICHELIN Guide commented that Kobayashi had a keen sense of taste and a distinctive skill in flavor pairings and combinations. It also appraised that the delicate touch to his dishes showed the Japanese influence and his work had reached to the perfection.

Currently, KEI is completely booked for the next two months.


Author profile

Yasushi Kurita was born in Tokyo. He has spent the last 30 years as a writer for print publications and TV. When he was in college, he spent two years in New York. His favorite band is the Atlanta Rhythm Section, making him one of about 15 Japanese people who actually like that band.