Born in Wakayama Prefecture, the eldest son of a dual-income farmer, he spent his childhood helping out in the fields and running around between rice paddies. At age 21, Kanji Kobayashi left his hometown and flew to Italy, traveling solo on a one-way ticket.
“The four years I spent in Italy became the foundation of my cooking, and the Italian culture of “campanismo”, cooking with ingredients that can be found within hearing distance of the church bells in each city, is still the basis of my cooking.”
Kanji Kobayashi returns to Japan and opens Villa AIDA in December 1998. Vegetables are the protagonists at Villa Aida. Raised in a farming family, Kobayashi now grows much of the organic produce used in the restaurant or buys it from neighbors. Kanji Kobayashi says that more than 100 different vegetables grow in the surrounding fields.
“We judge the size and shape of each vegetable, and draw out their infinite potential by pairing them properly with other ingredients.”
Surrounded by a serene ocean, the beautiful hills of Wakayama produce more than just vegetables—citrus and other fruit trees also grow here. Pigs, cows, and chickens that have been raised in a comfortable and safe environment are also used in a way that lets nothing go to waste. Fish, oysters and other seafood taken from nearby fishing communities produce a fresh aroma, like the sea breeze from home.
“Our philosophy is… for our health, and to protect future generations of children. It means understanding the laws of nature and living a rich life according to the oft-forgotten wisdom of our grandparents. “
“We live in the natural surroundings, so we create preserves and wines from the fruits found in our gardens. We candy, pickle and dry the abundant vegetables taken from the farms of Villa AiDA so that they do not go to waste.”
Instagram: @kanjikobayashi @villa_aida_wakayama
Restaurant web site: http://villa-aida.jp/english.html
Restaurant address: 71-5 Kawajiri, Iwade 649-6231, WAKAYAMA, JAPAN