Tetsuya Wakuda OAM grew up in the Japanese town of Hamamatsu in the Shizuoka Prefecture. With a limited knowledge of English, Tetsuya arrived in Australia at the age of twenty-two, never imagining he would one day be embraced as one of the nation’s favourite chefs.
Landing in Sydney in 1982 with nothing more than a small suitcase and a love of food, Tetsuya found his very first job as a kitchen hand at Fishwives in Surry Hills. A year later he was introduced to Sydney chef Tony Bilson, who was looking for a Japanese cook to make sushi at Kinsela’s. It was at Kinsela’s that Tetsuya learned classical French techniques, thus forming the beginnings of his own style of cooking, marrying the French technique with the Japanese philosophy of using natural, seasonal flavours.
Tetsuya left Kinsela’s in 1983 and, in partnership with the head waiter, opened Ultimo’s. In 1989, he went on to open his own restaurant, Tetsuya’s, on a small site in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle. Relocating to the CBD in November 2000, Tetsuya refurbished the heritage-listed site at 529 Kent St to create his dream restaurant, complete with dining rooms overlooking an exquisite Japanese garden.
His contribution to Australia society was recognised in 2005 with the Medal of the Order of Australia, given to Tetsuya in recognition of his “service to the community and the development of Australian cuisine as a chef, restaurateur and author, to vocational training, and to support for charitable groups.”
Tetsuya is proud to promote the traditions and cuisine of Japan, and was honoured to be selected as the Japanese sake industry’s first overseas Sake Samurai (or ambassador) in 2006.
In addition to the restaurant, Tetsuya has introduced some of his most loved and admired recipes to kitchen and book shelves across the globe, with his cookbook Tetsuya, and expanding range of gourmet products.
Over the course of his career, Tetsuya has won acclaim not only in Australia, but also internationally. Tetsuya’s featured in Restaurant Magazine (London) World’s 50 Best Restaurants from the list’s inception in 2002 through to 2013, and Tetsuya has earned international recognition as one of the world’s great chefs, acknowledged by his peers, the media, and diners around the globe.
In 2010, Tetsuya embarked upon an exciting culinary venture in Singapore. His restaurant, Waku Ghin, is located in the spectacular Marina Bay Sands complex, and has received the same exceptional reviews as Tetsuya continues to enjoy for his eponymous restaurant in Sydney.
In late 2013 he was honoured by the Japanese government, as the first ever internationally based chef to be recognised as one of Japan’s Master of Cuisine.
2016 marked Tetsuya’s first Michelin Star, with Waku Ghin being recognised in Singapore’s first Michelin Guide. He was further honoured by Relais & Chateaux as the recipient of the annual Chefs Trophy 2017, a mark of great respect from his peers. In 2017, he received Two Michelin Stars for Waku Ghin from the Michelin Guide in Singapore, an honour he said he shared with his whole team.
“Tetsuya is part of an elite group of international chefs that has influenced other chefs through their personal styles and unique approaches to food. His culinary philosophy centres on pure, clean flavours that are decisive, yet completely refined. His amazing technique, Asian heritage, sincere humility, worldwide travels and insatiable curiosity combine to create incredible, soulful dishes that exude passion in every bite.” – Charlie Trotter.