In a cozy Tokyo neighborhood sandwiched between Omotesando and Shibuya, an Australian chef and business owner serves up truffle pasta paired with red wine almost every night to regulars and tourists. Savvy Tokyo sat down with Sarah Craigo to find out how and why an experienced marketer and foodie made the leap into the restaurant business and what she’s gained from the experience.
On paper, what Crago has achieved in only a few years at her niche truffle eatery, OUT, is remarkable. And it’s all because of her belief in the potential of OUT, her passion for food and her determination to make her dream a reality.
It’s far from an unusual scenario, except that this individual launched her flourishing restaurant with only a dream—no service experience, no business management skills and no contacts in Tokyo.
What got you into food?
I always had an interest in food and was passionate about cooking and sourcing ingredients, so I went from London to Italy, to do a Masters in Gastronomy; Food Culture and Communications. It probably was the best year of my life. I got to learn a lot about the background of food and do tastings. Even coming out of that masters I didn’t know how to pursue my interest. I thought I would be working in communications around food. I went back to Australia for a couple of months and before I knew it, I was here setting up the restaurant.
You jumped in without service experience. How was that?
OUT is the first service I’ve had to do. I’ve always been interested in food—everything from fine dining to street food—and eaten at a lot of restaurants. I also travel to eat. I’ve always been observant of how restaurants work and what I think makes good service and I was reviewing restaurants in Tokyo for various publications before opening OUT. I got an idea of what I want in a restaurant and opened OUT from a very customer-focused point of view. But I had to learn a lot about cooking and service—and am still learning a lot.
How did you come up with the concept?
I’d just come back from Italy and was in the mountains, not far from Melbourne, in the wintertime, having a dinner party with about 10 friends. We’d made fresh pasta with fresh Australian winter truffles. As it came out, somebody got up and changed the record to Led Zeppelin. Everyone had this moment of ‘this is it’: eating pasta and truffle, drinking red wine and the sound of Led Zeppelin. We joked that it would make a great restaurant concept.
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