The Art of Teppan-yaki Cooking

Metal Spatulas and salt n peppershakers fly through the air and are caught behind the back. Sharp silver knives cut through filet mignon steaks, boneless chickens and Tristan da Cunha lobsters. Soy sauce and seasoning is added as the portions are divided onto plates of the gazing hungry customers. This is the art of teppan-yaki cooking.
Teppan-yaki cooking is a Japanese term for "cooking on the grill." This tabletop form of cooking is a popular tourist attraction that combines knife skills and an entertaining presentation. It is the Japanese form of barbecue and consists of a flat wide grill with a pit where the chef stands as the customers surround him.
It is not merely just cooking, it is also about performance. "They come here to be entertained. It's also all about the cutting techniques," said Jet Mupas, a teppan chef at Tanaka of Tokyo restaurant. Mupas has been a chef at TOT for close to four years. "It takes six months to get everything," he said.
Prior to TOT, Mupas worked at "La Merenda," a restaurant in the Hyatt hotel in Guam. Mupas said there is a big difference between regular dine-in restaurants compared to teppan-yaki restaurants. "You work more hours and the timing is different. Here, your always in the rush, always flying," said Mupas.
After the servers take the order they turn in the table map to the kitchen. On the table map, it shows exactly which customer ordered what so the chef could properly place the food in the individual plates.
The food is prepped in the kitchen and brought out onto the carts that are in the pit. The next chef in line takes his tools, which consists of a wet towl to wipe his knives and spatula with, a grill scrub, silver spatula, and two small nine-inch wooden baton-like salt n pepper shakers used not for seasoning but for the "shaker" show at the end of the meal.
Once the chef enters the pit, he greets …


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