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Head chef of Finnair Kitchen shares how his practical career choice turned into a dream job

Koji Moriwaki, a head chef at Finnair Kitchen, comes from a typical Japanese family, in which his stay-at-home mom took care of the cooking and dad was the one who went to work. Being a chef was not originally Koji’s dream job or plan, but rather a happy and convenient coincidence.

Not the most typical career story

“I know all the other chefs wanted to become a chef from a young age and go to school for it to try to become the best at it,” states Koji Moriwaki, Head chef at Finnair Kitchen. That wasn’t quite the case for Koji, however, who first started working at a restaurant as a 16-year-old high school student that wanted to earn some pocket money.

Later at university, Koji studied law but realized at some point that if he wanted to move from one country to another, law would be a difficult field to practice internationally. Cooking, on the other hand, would be a great choice to always get a job no matter where he lived or moved to, as Japanese restaurants are popular everywhere.

After lots of self-learning and jobs at different restaurants, Koji’s current position as Finnair Kitchen’s Head chef consists of both planning and cooking. He is responsible for planning the Japanese Business Class meals for Finnair flights as well as preparing business class meals for Japan Airlines’s flights leaving from Helsinki.

Most rewarding is the final result

Koji says that the most rewarding and motivating part of the job as a chef is to see the end result right away, sometimes even in 10–15 seconds, and whether the cooking has been a great success or a failure. Even though Koji finds the planning part enjoyable and important, the actual cooking is what he enjoys the most.

Working in huge productions, such as Finnair Kitchen, makes it impossible to be part of the whole process. “I’m the one who would like to do everything themselves: cut the vegetables, cook, bring the dish to the customer and see their face when they taste what I have just cooked.”

Whenever he has a chance to travel in Finnair’s Nordic Business Class, he tries to look around and see the reactions of passengers eating his creations. An airplane creates its own challenges, as the meals need to be prepared beforehand and then reheated again on board.

For the future chefs

Hectic life in the family of five doesn’t leave that much room for cooking together with his children, but Koji sometimes cooks together with his 12-year-old son, who is interested in cooking. For the children wanting to become a chef, Koji encourages to be curious about different flavours, colours and tastes already from a young age. Going to the supermarket can turn into a great adventure once you start exploring what’s there.

And even if you give up on the idea of becoming a chef, learning to cook never goes to waste, as eating is something we must do.


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