Urban Explorer Series: Interview with Chef Sato Kiyoshi

Urban Explorer Series: Interview with Chef Sato Kiyoshi

“To me, cities are fascinating with the depth and breadth of what they portray, culture, subcultures, cultural identity and just f*cking beauty.”




Chef Sato Kiyoshi of Artifact


Our Urban Explorer


Could you please introduce yourself to our guests?

My name is Sato Kiyoshi, I am Japanese, but my first language is English. Actively placing the dots in the culinary sphere from Tokyo to London, Sydney to Singapore, I am now based in Hong Kong looking to bring vibrant, unique concepts and dining experiences to my guests and clients.


Recently, I headed up the opening of Artifact, which has been my first experience doing a bar and food court concept.


When did you first realise you wanted to pursue the culinary arts?

There was no eureka moment – I have always been cooking since I was around 11 or 12 years old.


Cooking is an art form in itself. What does it mean to you?

I believe cooking is a craft.


What does a day in the life of Mr. Sato Kiyoshi look like?

I generally try to wake up 6:30-7:00 am, grab a coffee, hit the gym, and depending on the level of staff in my current establishment, head to work or fit in a lazy breakfast and a read. I will work till past midday, then try to fit in an afternoon break, do some admin work, and research and development. Then it is on to dinner service! To end the day off, I will catch up on a book or work on more menu research and development.


Who has been your greatest culinary influence?

Growing up, there were many people I looked up to. That said, I would have to say, Thomas Keller, whom I had the privilege to cook for twice. You certainly don’t forget these moments.



What does” Urban Explorer” mean to you and how do you think you fit into this term?

I am a bit of a city boy – do not get me wrong, I admire nature but am more up for something that gets the heart beating than a hike! To me, cities are fascinating with the depth and breadth of what they portray, culture, subcultures, cultural identity, and just f*cking beauty. Something we do not do enough nowadays is just walking. We are all looking for that “bucket list” experience that we miss so many moments we may one day regret.


How would you describe your culinary style as a Chef, in terms of taste and execution? (Eg. Modern Japanese)

Modern Japanese, but I would like to think my style is continuously evolving yet retains the same ethos.


I endeavour to bring first and foremost satisfaction to my guests, good taste and flavours, and attempt to provide a moment – that in our busy and dopamine-inflated environments – brings them back to the moment, with friends and family. If I could, I wish to create pleasurable and positive memories.


At the Chef’s Table


Artifact beautifully fuses caviar into many of its decadent dishes. Is there a reason why caviar was selected as the star ingredient?

At the time, I was approached by my business partner to open up a caviar bar, so we already had this concept in mind from the very beginning.


Artifact’s intricate chef’s degustation menu is based on shun, the Japanese philosophy of seasonality. As we head into summer, what coveted ingredients can we look forward to an Artifact?

Ayu – a small salmon-like anadromous fish from Japan (also called sweet fish) – is an ingredient that I am excited to work with. But more than this single ingredient, the team challenges themselves with biweekly menu changes.


Can you tell us where you find inspiration for cooking?

I find inspiration in chasing the challenge of always attempting to provide the best experience for my guests and hopefully, one day, a truly unique one.


Do you ever feel like you run out of ideas or hit a roadblock? How do you overcome it?

You can’t force it; we all look for flow. There are ways to trigger it, but if I am at an impasse, I find history a key. Culture and classical music also help.


What do you love most about your job?

Endless possibilities and room for growth.


What is your advice and inspiration for those who want to learn this trade?

I am still placing the dots, trusting they will connect in the future but most of the greats have said work for the greats. When I was young, I endeavoured to work in different Michelin and 50 Best kitchens in different countries and continents, because different cultures also carry different work styles and thought processes – each with its pros and cons.


Artifact has recently just opened up its speak-easy style bar nestled behind the chef’s table. Could you tell us more about what guests can expect?

Artifact Bar is without a doubt one of the most unique spaces to grab a drink, Frank leading the charge with brown spirits. What’s not to love?



Travel Inspiration


So where does your inspiration for travel come from?

I have travelled so much previously that I had to add extra pages to my passport. It is key in this day and age to be open to experiences and one of the quickest ways to do so is travel!


Having lived in cities like Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore and London, what do you enjoy most about Hong Kong? Are there certain elements or characteristics that is visibly Hong Kong?

I love the speed, the acceptance and just the vibe of Hong Kong where everyone is hustling and working hard but not afraid to have a good time as well.


In 3 words, how would you describe Hong Kong?

Vibrant, Exciting, Home