Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe on healthy eating, creative cooking and his passion for Japanese cuisine…
We’re all really excited about the opening of itsu, why did you decide to open a restaurant within the Village?
Bicester Village fits perfectly with our brand, packed with high-end retailers! And with over 6 million visitors a year, itsu will provide customers with a healthy option and keep them fuelled while they shop. There has also been a huge customer demand from international customers which we’re excited about.
One of itsu’s core missions is to provide light and healthy food that tastes delicious - why was the health factor so important to you?
I’ve always believed busy lives shouldn’t stop people eating delicious, healthy food which is light and good for you. There are so many people saying different things about health, so I wanted to make it easy and simple for everyone but ensure it tastes great too!
Where did your passion for Japanese cuisine originate?
On a visit to Japan, I saw the healthy and delicious food eaten there which is such a big part of their culture and I wanted to bring the same concept to London. The Japanese have the longest life-span living into their 100s, in part because of their diet!
The innovative meals are much more exciting than the standard healthy fast-foods available today - what's the process for creating new dishes?
We aim to have the healthiest meals so we use the best ingredients available. I work closely with my food team to look at what’s new in the market and together we create innovative dishes which taste amazing!
Can you share with us your favourite dish on the menu?
It’s hard to pick just one favourite. My favourite sushi dish is Health & Happiness – so much colour and choice in one dish. When it comes to hot food I love the thai chicken potsu because of the fresh, authentic, fragrant ingredients.
Healthy eating is becoming more and more popular - what do you think has driven this trend?
People have become more conscious of clean labelling and knowing exactly what’s in their food. We provide clear product information in our shops and on our website. Customers increasingly want healthy food options while on-the-go – and we can provide this.
What’s next for Itsu?
We have plans to open many new sites across the UK in 2016 and beyond. We are starting our international expansion in the next 3 years in regions where we see a lot of opportunity in the healthy food market.