Ani-Chef Feature : Chef Kumi King

Chef Kumi King

One of the many things that make a country like Japan popular is undeniably the awesome cuisine one can enjoy there! We got to speak to Chef Kumi King, one of the expert Chefs at Shermay's Cooking School, who specialises in Japanese cuisine!

kumi spring rolls

Description: This dish is a good example of a "tasty & healthy" option.

Usually Spring Rolls are deep fried, but I choose oven baking instead. This makes them healthier and still tasty - making for a great starter or nibbles with drinks!

anibee: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Please introduce yourself and how long you've been in the industry!

Kumi: Hi! My name is Kumi King. I am from the southern part of Japan, Nagasaki city. I have lived in Singapore for the last ten years or so and I've also moved around a few different countries in last twenty years.

I've studied in a Hotel Management school in Switzerland after completing my education in Japan. Although I was never trained as a professional chef, I have worked in hotels and small restaurant kitchens as a trainee. My real cooking practice comes from when I was a teenager in my home kitchen, helping my mother to prepare family meals. I still enjoy cooking for my family and friends till today. I have been teaching simple Japanese home cooking at Shermay's cooking school for the past year.

ramen Japanese kumi

Description: This is a dish we often have during the summer season in Japan.

Compared to the typical ramen with hot soup, Hiyashi chuka is very refreshing and light. (Normally consumed with Japanese vinaigrette dressing)

anibee: You have lived and worked in many different countries as a Chef! How do you feel having been to all these places has helped you in your culinary work?

Kumi: I have lived in 6 different countries in the last twenty years but not as a professional chef. (perhaps I am a personal chef to my husband!) I was a student in some of those countries and worked in the hotel industry for many years. However, I definitely became more interested in different cuisines and I have been inspired by different ways of presenting dishes and usage of spices which are not commonly used in Japanese cooking.

dumpling Japanese food kumi

Description: Gyoza is one of my favorite things to make!

I enjoy wrapping them one by one, thinking about how tasty they would be and brings back memories of my childhood when my mother used to ask me and my siblings to help her wrap them.

anibee: You have mentioned that you enjoy katei ryori (家庭料理). Could you explain what this is, and what it comprises of?

Kumi: 'Katei Ryori' means home cooked meals. Japanese cuisine has become more and more popular in last ten years in Singapore as well as in other countries. Typical Japanese dishes which most people know would be "Sushi", "Tempura", "Sukiyaki" and these are what you would see on the restaurant menu. However, in Japan these dishes are enjoyed at special occasions and not everyday. When I talk about "Katei Ryori", I think of dishes which my mother used to cook for us at home - well balanced meals prepared with fresh ingredients using simple cooking methods but very tasty! Those dishes would be "Nikujyaga", "Gyoza", "Hijiki salad", "Miso soup with sea food", etc...

Japanese dumpling in soup kumi

Description: This is Gyoza prepared in soup stock. You can enjoy the dish as a soup or dip each Gyoza in a sauce.

anibee: What is cooking like for you at home with your family? How does it differ from when you cook professionally?

Kumi: I like cooking simple dishes with fresh ingredients. I also try to think about preparing healthy meals at home (proteins, lots of vegetables, sea vegetables, etc) especially for someone like my husband who travels often and has most lunches outside.

This also carries over to when I select dishes to teach at Shermay's. However I do also take into consideration local people's taste and what they'll enjoy cooking at home.

Takoyaki kumi

Description: Originally Takoyaki came from Osaka, Kobe, and the Akashi area (cities in Kansai). I used to live in Kansai area when I was young, and Takoyaki was my favorite snack to enjoy after school! It's fun to make this dish at home and you can be creative and put different things inside the ball besides octopus.

anibee: What is your personal favourite dish?

Kumi: I love pasta. Especially ones with a Japanese twist such as "Mentaiko pasta"!

Japanese cabbage pizza kumi

Description: Okonomiyaki, another fun dish to make at home for your family and friends!

Although it doesn't look like it, this dish has so much cabbage inside the pancake. You can make this dish with different combinations of meat, seafood too!

anibee: What advice do you have for budding chefs?

Kumi: My advice would be to take an interest in all kinds of food and ingredients and try them as much as you can! That would help you to understand and create well harmonised dishes with an interesting twist.

bento kumi

Description: Bento (packed lunch) is very important part of our food culture in Japan. Most of us grow up bringing a Bento to school, packed for us by our mothers who would wake up early in the morning to prepare them.

All photos and captions are courtesy of Chef Kumi King.

- Edited by Q