Today, we’re really excited to introduce you to Marybeth Boller, an amazing female chef in Japan!
First of all, thank you for your time Marybeth! Can you please introduce yourself and give us a little background?
Born and raised in NYC. My culinary career began with Jean George Vongeritchen. I worked full time for him and attended the night program at the International Culinary Center. I then went on to work at the Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace, the Hotel Martinez in Cannes and Le Gavroche in London.
Back to NYC for a mix of both catering and restaurants. I opened up JG (Jean George) in NYC as his sous chef and also was the chef of the largest catering company in NY, executive chef of Bergdorf Goodman and owned my own catering business based in Greenwich, CT.
What made you come to Japan? And where are you currently working?
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy asked me to relocate. She has been a client for 20 years. I moved to Tokyo and jumped into the position of Exec Chef and Event Planner at the US Embassy in Tokyo.
Since leaving the embassy I have been involved in a variety of projects. Consulting for ANA Airlines, Mitsui Fudosan, Jetro, Tokyo American Club, Foreign Correspondents’ Club, several local restaurants and a project working with local producers on Awaji. (I lived on the island for 4 months)
I had the pleasure to meet you at the SAGA COLLECTIVE event in Tokyo and I can confirm that your food is delicious! Can you please let us know about your experience as a female chef? According to your experience, do you think it’s different here in Japan than in other countries?
Thank you for your kind words! It was an awesome project. I had just returned from a week in Saga touring with top buyers from Neiman Marcus. They are planning to have a Japan Fair in the future, in 43 of their stores across the US.
I think being a chef is a tough job if you are male or female. If you are not passionate about it, find something else to do.
It was very difficult in my early years. Most of the 3 star Michelin restaurants where I worked had very few female cooks/chefs. There are more opportunities now for sure and more areas in the culinary world overall.
Here in Japan, it seems like a male dominated field. Rather behind the times, I would have to say. Japan is not an easy place to cook professionally as a foreigner AND a woman. But I love the ability to learn every day. I feel like it’s a never ending adventure cooking in Japan!
If you have to choose only one, what is your favorite Japanese food? And do you miss food from your hometown?
I don’t really have one food. So many food loves here. I gravitate towards local seasonal vegetables and fruits. I work with some great traditional miso and soy producers and incorporate some of these items into my everyday cooking routines.
I miss the farmer’s markets in NYC. Unfortunately, there is nothing really like Union Square Market here in Tokyo. There are a few small markets here. Hopefully that will change in the future.
Times are pretty tough now worldwide due to Covid19 and more and more restaurants here in Japan are now offering takeout and delivery, which is great! We noticed that you just launched NOKASOUL, a Farm-to-Bento Food Delivery Service from Tokyo. Can you please tell us more about this?
I’m launching a subscription meal delivery service, nokasoul.com, working with local farms and Japanese producers to bring great food to clients’ doors.
Menus will focus on what is available weekly through direct contact with local farms.
Three two course meals delivered to clients each week tailored to individual dietary needs. We are starting with weekend plans but will expand into other delivery days soon!
We will also be coordinating with a local California wine vendor and a group carrying amazing US artisan cheese collections. The idea is to provide all of these great items to the clients’ door safely and easily. A service you can trust.
Next step will be “Zoom” online cooking classes. We will deliver the ingredients in advance and everyone can cook together.
During this #stayhome time, why not book your personal consulting call for your future trip to Japan to learn more about local and authentic food, or try one of Arigato Japan’s new online experiences!