Fashion Meets Food: How Natsuko Infuses Her Love of Style into Her Culinary Creations

Leo Ariel
4 min readMay 5, 2023

Note: I discovered Natsuko in the documentary “The Pursuit of Perfection” starring 4 Japanese chefs. I was very moved by her story. It was the first time I cried in a long time.

Meet Natsuko / Eteke

She makes cakes

Her restaurant is named Été

Été = “Summer” in French. Natsuko = “Summer” in Japanese.

Natsuko infuses her love of fashion into her cakes.

“My peach cake, which uses two kinds of Japanese peaches and a custard filling, is inspired by my mother’s love for Chanel. I took inspiration from Chanel’s Matelassé bags and their diamond-shaped stitching, cutting the peaches and arranging them in a similar design.”

L: “Dressing Cake Up” — été X Tomo Koizumi. R: Chanel Matelassé pattern

“My Bouton [French for button] cake alternates Shine Muskat and purple Nagano grape varieties with spoonfuls of lime-flavoured mascarpone cream, arranged to look like the Comme des Garçons’ dot pattern.”

L: Bouton Cake. R: Comme des Garçons’ polka dot pattern

“The Damier cake [French for checkerboard] replicates the Louis Vuitton Damier print using Akahoppe red and Awayuki white strawberries atop a layer of sponge.”

L: Strawberry Cake. R: Loui Vuitton’s Damier pattern

Natsuko leveraged her personal brand to achieve her dream of opening a restaurant.

  1. “I wanted to start my own restaurant but I was only 23 so it was hard to get a loan.
  2. “Hiring staff, especially older male staff, was difficult.”
  3. “So I set aside my dream to open a restaurant and focused on making cakes topped with seasonal fruit.”
  4. I developed my brand Été and created a following with my cakes.”
  5. One year later I was then able to open my restaurant under the same roof, Été.
  6. “I think there’s no one else doing anything like this.”
Source

Natsuko uses her personal brand to accomplish things in other passions.

Sustainability

“For the past four years I have been working with Komaba Gakuen to recycle food waste, both from the culinary program and the cafeteria. The bio-based system produces organic fertilizer which is used for a garden near the school. Students take care of the garden and harvest tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and other vegetables that are used at the school. We are now recycling four and a half tons of waste a year from both the school and Été.”

Female Empowerment in Asia

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I hope to continue mentoring young women to become chefs. Now that I have my brand I want to use it to help support female chefs.”

Natsuko raised ¥35M alongside fans to provide scholarships for 19 Afghan women in rural & impoverished areas of Asia.

Sharing Her Personal Struggles

“My mother was very worried when I opened Été because I had to take out a loan from the bank. I had to work hard to support my family and my younger sister, who suffers from health problems. My father passed away when I was 21. I needed to be strong and successful.”

  • Her Father passed & she had to step away from the kitchen for a while.
  • A herniated disk put her in the hospital for a week and she had to recover at home for a month after surgery.
  • She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Luckily it was caught in the early stages.

If Natsuko can do it, so can you! ⭐️

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