Issue 33 | 5 Minutes With


Kiyoshi Burgess, Head Chef of the newly opened Kumo restaurant at Skye Niseko, has a love for gastropubs and izakaya restautants. Drawing on his experience working at popular restaurants in London, Tokyo and Australia, he and his team have created an exciting modern Japanese inspired menu for Kumo using locally sourced ingredients. We sat down with Kiyoshi san to chat about his food and dining inspirations, as well as his secret karoake talent.

Photo by Jacinta Sonja

Photo by Jacinta Sonja

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I’m half Australian, and half Japanese. I was raised in Japan and Australia. I worked in Tokyo for 4-5 years when I was 20, and, thereafter, in London. And, now, I’m here in Niseko.

From the places you’ve worked in London and Tokyo, how is Niseko different for you?

I’m still pretty new to Niseko, and everything is exciting to me. Niseko is a country town, and everyone knows one another. It is very different from being in a big city. Even though Niseko is an international ski resort with so many people, it is still very much a country town.

Since you arrived 7 months ago, what has been the most striking thing about Niseko for you?

It’s my first [real] snow experience, and my first time working in a ski resort. The surroundings are beautiful, and there’s lots of nature around.

What are your inspirations when it comes to food and dining?

I started out with modern Bristish and French cuisine, working at gastropubs, and at modern, fusion izakaya restaurants. I like eateries with nice atmospheres, places where you can drink and enjoy food. You see it here at local izakayas in Kutchan as well. I really like when people are able to enjoy food and drink together.

...What’s fusion izakaya?

I guess you could say it’s modern izakaya – a little more upscale, with better ingredients used.

Do you see a similarity between a gastropub and an izakaya?

Yes, I think the two are quite similar – competely diffferent cuisines but very similar in style. At a gastropub, people come for a beer, have nibbles from the bar menu, or stay for a meal. It’s pretty much the same at an izakaya restaurant, you coould come for a full meal, or have a beer with edamame and yakitori.

What’s Kumo’s menu like?

There are different menus for breakfast, lunch, après ski and dinner. It’s Japanese buffet for breakfast, Japanese soul food, such as donburi (rice bowls) and ramen, for lunch, and modern izakaya using Hokkaido ingredients for dinner. We try to use as much Hokkaido ingredients, or food sourced as close to Niseko as possible. If it’s sourced from outside of Hokkaido, it’d be within Japan. Kumo’s concept is a Japanese izakaya, with a Westernised touch.

What is your favourite ingredient to work with?

I love seafood, or any kind of fish. There’s a lot of good seafood from Otaru. I like to have them raw, or with very little cooking. I also love the vegetables around here.

What’s it like being the head chef at Kumo?

I’m the head chef, but I work with the whole team. It’s not just me. I almost want Kumo to be just Kumo. No one has to know who’s running it, as we are all doing it together. I’m the head chef, but Kumo is one team.

And some quickfire questions:
What’s your biggest hope for Kumo this season?

I hope to work with and get to know more local suppliers, and use more produce and ingredients from around Niseko and Hokkaido.

A must try from the menu would be....

Chargrilled Rusutsu pork with black pepper miso.

Name a hidden talent that you have.

I’m really, really good at karaoke! I sing Japanese songs, especially songs by a Japanese artists called GACKT(ガクト). I sing his songs all the time.

(Complete this sentence) If I’m not cooking, I’d be

At home with my 2 cats, or, yes, at karaoke!