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Shinobu Namae is Named Winner of Asia’s 50 Best Icon Award 2023

Shinobu Namae is Named Winner of Asia’s 50 Best Icon Award 2023

FoodieS Team
21 February 2023

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The celebrated chef of L’Effervescence in Tokyo is honoured for his efforts to champion sustainability within gastronomy and spotlight ethical cuisine.

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In the latest pre-announced award from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, Japanese chef and sustainability champion Shinobu Namae has been awarded the Icon Award – Asia 2023. Voted for by the 300-plus anonymous members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, this accolade celebrates individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the food world worthy of global recognition and who use their platform to raise awareness and drive positive change.

Yokohama-born Namae’s passion lies in shaping a more conscious refined dining culture, both with his cuisine and efforts beyond the kitchen. At L’Effervescence in Tokyo – which he calls his ‘hermitage in the city’s – food waste is minimal, and the produce is organic, regional, and homegrown, embodying his passion for representing Japan’s terroir. The interiors incorporate tradition with earthen walls and mortar, and sources of electricity are sustainable, such as using firewood collected from forest thinning for cooking.

Namae’s brand of ethical cuisine goes beyond produce and presentation. He makes conscious choices in gastronomy and seeks to inspire others to follow, prioritizing connections with nature, farmers, fishers, and hunters. He forages and free dives to document the health of marine ecosystems in Japan’s coastal waters and explores methods that reduce fine dining’s impact on climate change. His efforts saw him receive an invitation to the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York to give a speech at the World Oceans Day conference in June 2022 on the importance of collective action to revitalize the oceans’ health. Namae is also working closely with WWF Japan to reduce IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing in Japan.

His journey to becoming the executive chef at L’Effervescence includes years of learning under culinary heavyweights Michel Bras (Michel Bras Toya Japon, Hokkaido) and Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, Bray) before pursuing his own brand of cuisine, which is inspired by France, steeped in Japanese tradition and rooted in produce that is steadfastly local, seasonal and artisanal. Namae is not classically trained in the culinary arts but is a former political studies student who reembraced academia in 2021 to pursue a doctorate in Microeconomics of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo. For him, it was an effort undertaken to better understand the food system and meaningfully contribute to the future of gastronomy.

Under his thoughtful leadership, L’Effervescence has won numerous awards that applaud its conscious cuisine. It has been a fixture on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants lists since 2014 and currently sits at No.71 on the 2022 list and on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants extended lists since 2015, where it most recently ranked at No.99 in 2021. Other accolades garnered on the 50 Best lists include the Beronia Highest Climber Award for Asia in 2021 and being named the first-ever winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018. Namae is also the supervisor of Bricolage Bread & Co., a boulangerie in Tokyo where flour and seasonal ingredients are sourced directly from farmers in Hokkaido, Shiga, Chiba, and more.

William Drew, Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “Many chefs discuss embracing sustainability, but Shinobu Namae is a frontrunner in the many ways he implements, inspires, and continues to champion the food world’s positive impact on the planet. He does all this while presenting an unparalleled dining experience at L’Effervescence where the cuisine speaks volumes while remaining anchored in simplicity and respect for tradition.”

On winning the Icon Award, Namae says: “I am very honored to receive the Icon Award as part of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, and I hope that this award will raise awareness of the importance of health. Health starts from our own body and mind, our society, and the environment that embraces us. They are all interconnected, so we should not ignore any of them. I believe that food is the best solution for all broken parts, not only because of its nutrition but also because of its capacity to help us understand others. Post-Covid, I hope all separated worlds will be harmonized and healed via the power of food.”

Namae will receive the award at an in-person ceremony held on the 28th of March, 2023, in Singapore, in collaboration with host destination partner Singapore Tourism Board.

L’Effervescence

2 Chome-26-4 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0031, Japan

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