EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Exclusive Interview #35

  • from "Chef ~Three Star School Lunch~"
  • Yuki Amami

Our latest Exclusive Interview features Yuki Amami from "Chef ~Three Star School Lunch~" on air every Thursday at 10pm. In her past titles, former Takarazuka Revue star and popular actress has proved her versatility with wildly different roles, from a cool, canny and self-assured detective in "BOSS" to a Broadway musical star turned coach of a hopeless choir in "Princess of the Frog". In this new comedy-drama series, Yuki Amami takes on the main lead Mitsuko Hoshino, an overconfident French cuisine chef who suddenly loses her job and star status and finds herself making school lunches for elementary school kids. Here’s what she has to say about her character, impressions on her co-stars, and more!

Q

What was your impression when you were offered this drama series?

A

It was about a year ago when I first heard that the concept of this drama and its story being about a chef making school lunch meals. Back then, I couldn't exactly picture how the story would turn out, but as the production started to take shape, I began to learn how there are so many rules and regulations pertaining to making school lunch meals. For example, there are rules for how much it should cost per student, menus must meet the nutrition standards, and you must always ensure the cleanliness of the kitchen at any time. Gaining knowledge about these things made me realize how school lunches deserve to be more appreciated. I myself used to take school meals for granted and never appreciated it as much as I should have, so I feel bad about it now. I do feel a lot of pressure playing this role of Mitsuko Hoshino who is a three-star chef facing this painstaking task of making school lunch, but at the same time, I'm really excited to tackle this big, ambitious challenge.

Q

How do you see your character Mitsuko, who has not only survived the rigorous trainings in the male-dominant world of chefs, but has climbed up to be one of the world's best chefs?

A

For someone to excel and be far better than others, I think he or she has had to make a lot of tough choices, decisions, and also sacrifices. I assume Mitsuko probably has faced a number of challenges, setbacks, and failures in the past, but the fact that she's overcome all of these experiences, I believe she's truly a strong-willed woman who's extremely tough mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Q

Are there any parts of her that you can relate or that you like?

A

Well, I'm not as confident or self-assured as Mitsuko, but having a profession like mine, I have to stand on stage or in front of a camera, looking 100% confident and upbeat. But I'm a human too, so I do have moments where I feel insecure or nervous. I think Mitsuko too feels that way at times, but she serves her dishes in the most confident manner and assures herself and everyone else that her dishes are the best in the world. She does that because presenting herself in such way and showing off her confidence would make her customers believe and enjoy her dishes more. I can totally understand and relate to her with these things, and that makes me want to cheer her on.

Q

There are many scenes of Mitsuko cooking. Are you comfortable acting in these scenes?

A

She's had her training as a chef in France, the country of gourmet cuisine, so I'm trying my best to make Mitsuko to look completely professional and effortless whenever she's cooking in the kitchen and really working hard to making all her actions flow naturally.

Q

Do you cook often yourself?

A

I don't like to eat out alone, so I end up cooking for myself when I eat at home. I cook very simple stuff, like the breakfast menu at Japanese inn, so I make things like, miso soup, natto beans, pickles, etc. Sometimes when I'm in a slump, I just wake up middle of a night and start making stew. *laugh* I think chopping vegetables helps me relieve stress. I feel a lot more refreshed and clear-headed afterwards and can sleep a lot better.

Q

What was your favorite school lunch menu?

A

Age-pan (deep-fried bread) for sure! I also liked cream stew and rice with Okoge (burnt piece of rice). It's such a fortunate thing to be able to eat hot meals for lunch at school, and the quality of hygiene management in the kitchen is very high in Japan. There are so many things I've learned through being in this drama, and I truly hope that people watching this show would also learn these things and gain a sense of appreciation for school lunch meals. I also think that watching the show would help parents to feel safe knowing that school lunches are made under strict rules and regulations in very clean, sanitary environment.

Q

Can you tell us your impression on your co-stars Kotaro Koizumi and also on Kenichi Endo?

A

Kotaro plays a man named Shinoda, the owner of the restaurant Mitsuko works at, then he fires her. When I first heard that Kotaro has been casted for the role of Shinoda, I was pleasantly surprised. I felt, "Wow, I didn't see that coming, but he definitely fits the character!" Kotaro himself is a very handsome, good-hearted gentleman, so for him to play Shinoda who is a very sleazy and manipulative guy kind of makes the character's dark side even more malignant. As for Kenichi, I've worked with him a couple of times with other dramas. In this show, our characters stand against each other, so there are many scenes where we get into a heated argument, but Kenichi has this strength that he would never back down, so I'm very much looking forward to working with him.

Q

Lastly, could you give a message to the viewers?

A

Mitsuko clashes with people no matter where she goes, so I'm sure she will most likely go through a bitter situation somewhere down the road. But on the other hand, she has this abundance of energy to do anything that she has put her mind to. So, I hope the viewers will feel that relentless energy from her and be inspired in some way. There will be many funny scenes that make you chuckle, so I hope viewers will enjoy watching and continue to support our show!