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April 1 & 2, 2017

From Japan to Seattle: Fuji Bakery’s Chefs Crossed an Ocean in the Name of Baking

For the two chefs at Seattle’s Fuji Bakery—known for serving up exotic baked goods that fuse favorite flavors from the East and West—home lies on the other side of the Pacific. Patissier Yushi Osawa and boulanger/baker Takanobu Ogisu both hail from Japan, where they individually perfected their crafts before setting sights on Seattle.

Patissier Yushi Osawa in the kitchen at Fuji Bakery
Their unique creations will be available for customers of Seattle’s Capital One Café - set to open later this year, a neighborhood hub not only for everyday banking with Capital One’s innovative digital tools but also the go-to place to meet with their knowledgeable money coaches over a coffee and Fuji Bakery’s irresistible baked goods.

Boulanger / baker Takanobu Ogisu prepares a ham sandwich.
Below, Yushi and Takanobu share stories of leaving home to pursue their passions and what they have in store for Capital One Café customers in search of a treat.

How did you first get into baking? What brought you both to Seattle?
Yushi Osawa: I am originally from Tokyo and started my career as a pastry chef when I went to culinary school. After graduation, I baked in Tokyo, then moved to Paris where I worked and studied as a pastry chef in depth for three years. In 2010, I moved back to Tokyo and four years later came to Seattle. This city has such a rich coffee culture, so I felt there would be a big business opportunity for pastries and cakes as well. I love the nature and climate, culture and people in Seattle.

Takanobu Ogisu: It's been 16 years since I started baking at the age of 20. I really like bread and pastries, and I wanted to make people happy with what I made. That's the reason why I decided to become a baker. I'm from Gifu prefecture in Japan. I went to a culinary school there to learn baking, and studied more at bakeries while working there. I also experienced how to manage bakeries by becoming a store manager, and eventually started my own bakery in Japan. The owner of Fuji Bakery scouted me, and I decided to come here working in Seattle to try new things.

What was the transition like moving from Japan to America both financially and emotionally?
YO: It wasn't really a bad transition. Financially, I would have made more money if I stayed working in Japan. However, to create what only I can do and shape up my own style, I believe working here is a better decision for my career.

TO: Timing was pretty good when the owner offered me to work in the U.S. I'm still a newbie to the states, so I need to learn English while working. I haven't gone to many places yet. I feel like I don't spend much of money right now compared to when I was in Japan because of that. But, I'm looking forward to enjoying more things eventually.

After graduating from culinary school, both of you set career goals that required you to make some important sacrifices for the sake of investing in yourself and pursuing your dreams. Can you give an example?
YO: Ever since I decided to pursue this career, going to France was one of the steps I was planning. So I saved up around $30,000 while working in Japan, sometimes doing jobs I did not want to, but that paid well.

TO: I borrowed money from my parents when I started my own bakery. I'm still paying it back to them.

What inspires your work?
YO: A mixture and fusion of art and food. I usually get inspired by artworks such as paintings, sculpture and theater arts rather than things related to food. The beauty of nature is also a major inspiration for my work.

TO: To make delicious bread and pastries, the basics are more important than the great recipe itself. Weather, temperature, humidity and so on; these affect how the bread is done. I pay attention to all elements to work with the dough day by day.

You chose to forgo the opportunity to make more money in Japan so you could pursue a career in America and debut your creations to a new audience. Now that your treats will be featured in the Capital One Café, what are you planning to make for the customers?
YO: Something creative and fine tuned in taste and appearance – and that you can only find at the Café. I find American pastry culture still young and I have a lot to work with since I see much less variety of desserts in town compared to Europe and Japan.

Being newer to America, you’re still getting used to the experiences and opportunities that Seattle has to offer. What are you looking forward to most about Capital One’s partnership with Fuji Bakery?TO: I am so grateful to see people like our products. It feels like my work and efforts in Fuji Bakery are being valued and recognized. With this partnership, I'm looking forward to seeing and making the bread I have not yet seen or created.

To find a Capital One Café, visit bankingreimagined.capitalone.com

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