Food, Home & Lifestyle

Meet Your Instructor: Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama

Lesson time 05:38 min

Chef Niki Nakayama fuses Japanese tradition with Californian ingredients to redefine kaiseki cuisine. In her first lesson, Niki will share the challenges and victories she encountered on the road to earning two Michelin stars.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Niki Nakayama Teaches Modern Japanese Cooking


[INDISTINCT CHATTER] [CROWD CHEERING] [MUSIC PLAYING] NIKI NAKAYAMA: When I'm not in the kitchen or when I'm just being me, I feel very self-conscious about how to express who I am as a person. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I'm in the kitchen and I'm in this realm of just being able to do whatever I want, I feel that it's so easy to be free. [MUSIC PLAYING] It's so immersive and the connection feels very deep and very easy. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I really want to say something or when I really want to express something, it's so easy to do it through the medium of food. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I was thinking about opening n/naka I needed to give myself the space to do something that I really wanted, which is a restaurant that did kaiseki style food and a tasting menu. [MUSIC PLAYING] The main idea in kaiseki is to showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients that are closest to you and to use the meal to tell a story of your surroundings. [MUSIC PLAYING] In this MasterClass, you will learn the Japanese cooking techniques that I use to create a kaiseki meal. I'm looking forward to showing you how to fabricate some fish, how to steam a dish, how to make dashi, the foundation of all Japanese cuisine and food, and I'm looking forward to teaching you how to grill over binchotan, how to make some tempura, and how to cut some sashimi. [MUSIC PLAYING] The one thing that you will definitely see is that Japanese food is made up of a lot of little dishes which is what makes it so incredibly fun. [MUSIC PLAYING] And I think, for myself, with modern kaiseki and what we're doing at n/naka, it's always about trying to find and respect what is traditional, but also finding our own path within it. [MUSIC PLAYING] I consider myself someone who really loves what tradition stands for, but I also believe that tradition needs to keep moving with time. And I would love to be able to move it as it changes and be a part of that versus strictly trying to preserve tradition, so I'm more of an innovator. [MUSIC PLAYING] Traditional kaiseki has such a long history. Recognizing that, we've decided to do a modern version of kaiseki because traditional places in Japanese history do not necessarily have space for women and in order to counter that we've decided to create the type of space that would have space for women. N/naka evolved to become what it is today when I met Carol and we began working together. She really helps me express my vision to our staff because sometimes I don't always have the right brain space to communicate as well. She translates my crazy ideas into practical products. [MUSIC PLAYING] What we created at n/naka is influenced first and foremost by where we are, and California is our backdrop. Just the fact that we're not in Japan already means that we're not going to be traditionalists. If we really want t...

About the Instructor

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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