The lure of fresh, white snow is strong. The slopes call out for you to explore this pristine and picture-perfect landscape. You ski and snowboard to your heart’s content. Welcome to Niseko, where all your dreams of an adrenaline-packed snow adventure are fulfilled. With so much daily physical activity, there is a need to replenish and re-energize, and this is where Niseko really delivers the goods. Niseko Gourmet is the local culinary favourite, providing a private chef, fresh ingredients and a host to your own chalet.
Twelve years ago, Tess Stomski came to Japan to work as part of the winter staff in a resort. She vowed to come back and live in this wonderful country, a dream she fulfilled a few years later. She started providing food and dining experiences to skiers and other vacationers in Niseko and thus Niseko Gourmet was born. Needless to say, it was an instant hit.
“As one of the world’s top ski destinations, Niseko can accommodate 20,000 people. But the restaurants can only seat 2,000. Even if they do multiple seatings, the opportunity gap was fairly large,” says Jon Stonham, CEO of Elite Havens, which owns Niseko Gourmet.
Stomski ventured out to meet potential business contacts and farmers. Niseko Gourmet’s first chef was Chef Chisato Amagai, with whom she co-wrote a book, ‘Harvest Niseko’. Chef Chisato conceived the first home-cooked five-course dinner, to be prepared in front of the guests in their own holiday home.
“We have three levels of offerings. At the very base, we can do market shopping for those who wish to self-cater. Then there is delivery of gourmet food to the chalet. And at the very top, we offer bespoke gourmet experiences like a chef preparing a special meal within your chalet,” Jon Stonham elucidates.
Stomski then met Chef Kamada, a 70-year old sushi master with his own 35 year old restaurant in nearby Kutchan. Kamada now makes two to three sushi dinners every night for the clients of Niseko Gourmet.
The most popular part of the Niseko Gourmet service is the bespoke experience. The indulgence of having a luxuriant meal cooked especially for you, makes it stand out. “We use local Hokkaido ingredients,” shares Annie Craig, Manager of Niseko Gourmet. “For example, for the salad, the vegetables are handpicked from those available in the market on that day, or whatever the chef forages from the land of the mountains. Kutchan is known for its delicious potatoes, and as for the fish, Tanaka San lives near the fisherman’s village. He doesn’t even have to go to the market.” Other delightful offerings include Mitzutaki chicken which is cooked hotpot-style for 96 hours before it’s served to the guests. Tempura remains a favorite dish of the seven-course dinner, made fresh in front of you. Grade A5 Hokkaido wagyu beef is the only level of beef used, and the kinds of rock fish in seafood dishes depends on the time of year – and indeed – the catch of the day.
Not one to rest on past laurels, Niseko Gourmet has great plans for the way ahead. “In the future, we hope to add chefs specialising in Thai as well as western cuisines. They will join our elite team of highly-skilled chefs,” says Jon Stonham.