The Creative Masters Behind méli mélo -Yuki no Koe-
Today we are pleased to sit down with Ishii Masaya, the project manager of méli mélo -Yuki no Koe-, the main all day dining restaurant at Setsu Niseko and Sato Hironori, the chef who plays a big part in the restaurants’ opening this summer.
Can you please introduce yourselves?
Sato: I am originally from Hakodate, the southern part of Hokkaido. I opened ‘méli mélo’, a French restaurant in Sapporo in 2013, that year I also went to France to cultivate my culinary skills for 6 months at the 3-star restaurants ‘Astrance’ and ‘Ledoyen’ in Paris. I am honoured to have been awarded a one Michelin star by the Michelin Guide Hokkaido for méli mélo in Sapporo, since 2017.
Ishii: I was also born in Hokkaido. I have been in charge of the BARISTART COFFEE project since 2017, there are currently 4 branches across Hokkaido including Niseko.
What do you like about Niseko?
Sato: It is the destination that is hard to beat. I love the fact that there is such a great variety of dining options in town, and all the fun activities you can do all year round from summer to winter. Of course, it is safe to say that I like powder snow the best.
Ishii: Yes, I agree with Sato. It is such a great place. Mount Yotei and powder snow are definitely my favourite. I come to Niseko quite often to ski in winter and play golf in the summer.
Why did you decide to open a new restaurant at Setsu Niseko?
Ishii: We as Japanese always want to deliver a good dining experience to the world, not just the food itself, but to showcase the ingredients we carefully select for each dish. We are always looking for new ways to deliver this quintessential Japanese attention to detail with the rest of the world. As one of the most popular tourism destinations in Hokkaido, Niseko offers many opportunities to share our vision with guests from every corner of the world. Setsu Niseko promises to be an exciting new destination, we share a similar vision and they are a great partner to help us achieve our vision.
The restaurant name is méli mélo -Yuki no Koe-, please share with us why you chose this name? Is there any story behind the name?
Ishii: The meaning of Yuki no Koe is ‘Sound of Snow’. When we started out on this project, we wanted to have a name that ties in with the hotel name ‘Setsu Niseko’. Setsu means snow which is also what Niseko is well-known for. In Japanese, another way of saying this is Yuki, so we quickly locked this word down as a key part of the name. Koe means sound in Japanese. Snowfall in Hokkaido is very special, the snow quality here is amazing and very unique; unlike other places of Japan, the snow is soft, light and dry. The sound of it falling to the ground is my favourite. It’s very special and turned out to be the perfect name and we hope our guests will hear it through our dishes.
Can you please share with us the restaurant concept?
Sato: The concept is classic French cuisine using Japanese ingredients. We are in Hokkaido, a place that is full of amazing and reasonably priced ingredients that are not yet well known and we would like to share this experience with the world. We want to make it a place for everyone, even those who may not be a big fan of French cuisine can enjoy it.
What is the experience you would like to deliver?
Sato: Guest experience is very important for us. We want to focus on staff communication, build a strong sense of teamwork within the team to ensure that we can deliver the best guest experience and at the same time improve the quality of our daily work.
What makes méli mélo unique for diners?
Sato: Dishes that reflect the moment of the season and we plan to have seasonal specials in each season which we want to keep as a surprise for now. They will be delicious and we can't wait to reveal more details with everyone soon. Also the space is very unique, it is designed with warm oak timber interiors with stone accents, it creates a very warm and airy contemporary feel, giving a warm welcoming feeling for guests.
We understand that Chef Sato will play a big part in méli mélo's opening, how will you be involved in the process?
Sato: As the main dining venue of Setsu Niseko, it is a space that will be the face of the holiday experience and holds great responsibility. We work very hard not only on the food, but also to ensure we can provide a seamless dining experience for our guests. We want to ensure their holidays are stress-free. I will be here onsite working with the team to make sure that we can achieve this. I am looking forward to the job and have a strong sense of responsibility.
Can you share with us some of your favourite dishes/highlights you plan to have at meli melo?
Sato: It is an all day dining experience. Salmon roe (Ikura in Japanese) for breakfast, pork cutlet sandwiches for lunch and pasta served in the evening. There will be some new food items for this restaurant that we have never served before in méli mélo Sapporo, which is very exciting and I am confident that they will be excellent and a big hit with the guests.
With Setsu opening this summer 2022, what are you most excited about?
Sato: I am looking forward to sharing the motivation of making people happy, which is the best part of being in the service industry.
Ishii: For me, I would be interested in hearing the feedback from everyone about our food and their experience at the restaurant. We are really excited about it, as we are looking forward to promoting our cuisine to everyone, and Setsu Niseko will be our really good starting point.
More information about méli mélo -Yuki no Koe- will be available on the website soon, please stay tuned and we look forward to delivering you a great dining experience for you, our Setsu Niseko guests.
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