On April 7 and 8, The Center for Great Neighborhoods will host a pop-up restaurant featuring Covington resident and home chef, Chako. It will be a culinary dining experience in omotenashi, or the Japanese art of hospitality.
“When people eat my food, I want them to experience omotenashi, a concept intrinsically attached to the Japanese culture,” Chako says. “In English, it’s translated as hospitality, but to us Japanese, it involves so much more. Cooking and baking are my passion, therefore, I want my customers to be pleased and feel satisfied in all of their senses. I want them to feel welcomed, excited, unique and special.”
The two-day pop-up restaurant is the culmination of The Center’s pilot Chef Fellowship Program, which was funded by a FreshLo grant from The Kresge Foundation. Grants were given to organizations that were developing programs to help create healthy, vibrant communities strengthened by the deliberate integration of creative placemaking and food-oriented development.
The Chef Fellowship Program is a two-month kitchen and art workforce development internship that gives a home-based cook who is interested in starting a restaurant the chance to experience what it would be like to run one.
The Center also partnered with the Life Learning Center to provide interns with a real-world hospitality training program that includes learning hospitality skills, cooking techniques and arts-related skills. The interns will be the ones running the popup’s front of house, as well as helping Chako in the kitchen.
“It’s important to us to support local entrepreneurs and help them get the tools and resources to turn their ideas into a reality,” says Kate Greene, The Center’s program manager for community development.
For $45, guests will receive an authentic Japanese meal featuring salad, miso soup, housemade Japanese pickles, Japanese-style potato salad, chirashi zushi (scattered sushi) and two entrée choices — pork cooked in black tea topped with a fragrant sauce or agedashi tofu, which is deep fried and topped with tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, fried eggplant and a green onion sauce. The main course will be followed by wasanbon mousse, which is a Japanese dessert made in the traditional Shikoku method.
Guests 21 and over will be able to taste different types of Japanese beer or they can purchase a handcrafted sake glass for an additional $10, which comes with a sample of sake.
Chako uses fresh products and ingredients sourced locally or imported from around the world to achieve the taste and texture that she’s looking for.
“When I cook or bake, I try to anticipate what it will take to please my clients: first their sight, then taste and touch,” she says. “When they eat, I strive to make them feel as never before. I want my food to be a special gift for each person individually.”
Seatings are at 5:30 and 8 p.m. each night, and are limited to 25 people each seating. Tickets can be purchased here until April 1.