Soneva Jani appoints Kiichi Okabe as Grand Masterchef
Soneva Jani has hired Japanese Chef Kiichi Okabe in the role of Grand Masterchef.
Before joining Soneva Jani full time, Chef Okabe was the Executive Chef of Shoukouwa, which earned two Michelin stars in 2016.
Chef Okabe currently hosts private dining experiences at So Imaginative, the private celebration room at Soneva Jani for 20 people, where his menu fuses Japanese delicacies with Maldivian ingredients. Diners can expect dishes like baked Indian Ocean tooth fish marinated in Saikyo miso from Kyoto and raw shrimp from Hokkaido with yuzu flavoured seaweed and Soneva caviar.
Chef Kiichi Okabe’s career started in Ebisu, Tokyo, and whilst learning from the best he perfected his skills in Japanese and international cuisine. His first ever job was at 18, where he started as a chef in a kaiseki restaurant, where he worked at night, whilst in the day he was a sports trainer. Okabe then moved to Los Angeles to work in a three Michelin-starred French restaurant, before moving on to work in Las Vegas at Sushi Roku where he was the Executive Head Sushi Chef.
Okabe went on to Dubai as the Head Chef at Okku, which was named the ‘Best Japanese Restaurant in Dubai’ three years running. After this, he moved back to the US to work at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino as Kuro’s Executive Sushi Chef.
From there, he took up the role of Executive Chef of Shoukouwa, a two-starred Japanese restaurant in Singapore that features a menu from Sapporo. At Shoukouwa, fresh fish, seafood and produce are flown in daily to Singapore from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market.
In 2018, Chef Okabe opened Sushi Ryu in Kuala Lumpur, which he still owns. His dishes are crafted using seasonal produce from Japan and premium ingredients like caviar, uni and truffles to capture the exquisite flavours of his native cuisine.
Chef Okabe is known for being a sushi mastermind bursting with personality and culinary talent, as well as a passion not just for Japanese food – any food and all that goes with it. After he ended his time at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, he went back to Japan to further hone his culinary skills as well as take part in cutting edge food research. Chef Okabe firmly believes in the Japanese philosophy of Omotenashi, which means to wholeheartedly look after one’s guests. He believes that food made with happiness makes his customers happy, improves their wellbeing and fills them with good energy.
Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives.
Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi.
Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa, with additional villas to be built in phase two. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.
Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.
Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.