Chef Tomo Kurihara×Dump — Always Together

Jul 8, 2011 / Interviews

Photo: Shin Suzuki / Edit&Text: Madoka Hattori / Translation: Seth High

In addition to producing the restaurant 'Aponte' in Tokyo's Ebisu district, Chef Kurihara was selected as a an ASEAN food ambassador. Alongside Ms. Kurihara lives Dump, her beloved British Shorthair - a breed of cat rarely found in Japan. This issue is a collaboration with Casa BRUTUS magazine titled, 'Indeed, I want to live with pets!' (August issue, available from July 8th). In addition to being able to meet the adorable Dump, I had the opportunity to enjoy Kurihara-san's delicious homemade food.

Always living with cats

— How did you first encounter Dump?

"After I had decided on a British Shorthair, I searched for a while until I finally found a breeder in Wakayama Prefecture. That is where I first met Dump. A special characteristic of British Shorthairs is there thick tails and short hair. Because I thought she would grow up to be big like a dump truck, I gave her the name 'Dump'. (laughs) However, she is actually a little small compared to other cats of her breed."

— Had you previously wanted a cat?

"I have always loved cats. When I was an elementary student, I took care of an abandoned cat in our neighborhood. However, my mother said 'No way' when I asked if we could keep it. The only thing I could do was to keep it in the garden. However, I would let it into the house behind my mother's back. Eventually, my mother hesitatingly relented and I was able to keep the cat. Gabby, as she was called, went on to live to the ripe old age of 22. She finally passed away two years ago."

— 22 years is a long life for a cat. What did you do after that?

"Actually, when she was about 20, we took in another cat, an American Shorthair named Sada. The two cats lived together. After that, when I moved four years ago, I decided that I wanted another cat. After hearing rumors that the character 'Garfield' was based on a British Shorthair, I became really interested in getting one. After looking around a bit, I thought that blue was more classy than brown, so I decided on a Blue British Shorthair."

— Why did you look for Dump instead of taking Sada with you?

"I would have felt sorry making her move. Moreover, my parents poured love on her. They said, "Though it was you who first took her in, it was us who raised her." (laughs) There was nothing I could do about it."

Dump is especially affectionate with people who don't like cats

— Can you tell us a little about Dump's character?

"Though she is a little tense today, Dump is usually not very scared of strangers. She is especially affectionate with people who don't like cats. Another thing is that Dump loves water. She will do things such as sleep in the sink and lick hot water when I am taking a bath. Sometimes, when I don't shut the faucet tightly, I will find Dump playing with the faucet by letting drips of water hit her in the forehead. She likes taking baths so I will give her several between the spring and autumn. However, because it is said that cats can catch pneumonia, I never give her baths in the winter."

— Are there any particular places or toys that she likes?

"Dump loves the veranda. She goes outside to check the view. As for toys, she loves a stuffed cat. She is always licking it or batting it with her paws. It got so old and dirty, that I had to get her a new one. She also likes cat teasers and a toy with silver vine (Japanese catnip) in it. She is already on her third cat teaser. Dump also has a distinct interest in ribbons and cellophane. She once even ate a ribbon. I quickly ran her to an emergency vet, where she was given medicine that induced her to puke it up. It was terrible. The next day, Dump acted like nothing had happened, but I was a crying mess."

— Is she very picky about food?

"I always get her the crunchy type of Royal Canin. I've used the same food since she was a kitten. Though she doesn't look like it, Dump actually has almost no appetite at all. However, the vet says that she almost standard size for her breed. Because I want her to live as long a possible, I never give her anything to eat except for proper pet food. I always buy her food and things like trays at Petco. However, the dish she is now using I picked up in England. The designs of most practical cat items are not very cute, so I always have my eyes open for cat-related goods when I go abroad."

— What do you do for a litter box?

"I use the 'Nyantomo Toilet', which a friend recommended to me. You only need to change the sheet about once a week. However, because they have been out of stock since the earthquake, I have had to use something else lately. If the smell really starts to bother me, I will spray her litter box with either 'Tenshi no Mizu' or 'Pet no Shoshuryoku'. They really work well."

Avoiding your affection!?

— British Longhairs have a reputation for being obedient and timid.

"Because the breeder trained her well, she is generally a good girl. She only scratches her scratching pole, never the walls or Japanese rice paper doors. However, there is one thing she does that troubles me. She will bat at any glass items that are filled with water - often sending them crashing to floor and getting water all over the place. When I'm watching her, she will never do such things - but the minute I turn my head... crash! No matter how many times I take precautions, it inevitably happens again."

— Does she never become ill?

"Dump doesn't become sick often. Last year, however, when I was going through a real stressful period, I think my stress kind of wore off on dump. She suddenly started to misbehave. For example, she peed on the obi of my kimono as I was preparing to wear it to my friend's wedding. Moreover, she did the same thing to my suitcase as I was packing for a business trip. She seemed to knowingly go for things that I was about to use. Maybe she has a good sense of human stress. Fortunately, all of her misbehavior quickly ceased once we moved into our new place."

— Even though it seems like you keep a natural distance with her, I can sense that you really love Dump.

"No, I actually love her way too much. I show her so much affection that she doesn't want to sleep next to me anymore. (laughs) Though she doesn't mind being petted, she doesn't like being held very much. She used to sleep so soundly in my arms. Now she tries to run away."

Dump's Active Modeling Career

— Recently, Dump's been working as a model?

"At the request of cameraman Masahiro Shoda, Dump appeared on the CD jacket of Hanae-san's album titled 'Hane'. I was worried that she would get in the way and cause a problem. (laughs) Though it seemed for a minute that she would run away from the studio, the shoot actually went fine. The I probably looked like an overly proud parent, the experience made me really happy."

— Do you collect cat goods or books?

"I unconsciously collect knit bags with cat images on them as well other cat objects. I even made a paper-mache likeness of Dump. Also, when I was studying in England, there was a cat named Tom that lived in our neighborhood. As a present, my friend gave me a bowl with Tom's image on it. It means a lot to me. As for books, I have every issue of the manga titled, 'What's Michael?' It's so interesting."

— Lastly, can you tell us about your current agenda?

"When I was working at an apparel company, out of the blue, a magazine asked me if I would write regularly about cooking. This was my original impetus for becoming a chef. It was so much fun from the beginning that I spent more and more time cooking. Eventually, after about a year, I quit my job and turned to cooking full time. Recently, I produced an Italian restaurant called 'Aponte' and published two recipe books. However, I think that I would really like to start up my own restaurant. I want to create a place where people could eat generous portions of healthy food. I feel that a restaurant suits me better than a drinking establishment."

  • name: Dump
  • age: 5
  • sex: female
  • lind: British Shorthair
  • Tomo Kurihara
In addition to having a terrific cook for a mother, chef Kurihara is the daughter of two food lovers. Her mother, Harumi Kurihara, is a food researcher. Likewise, her father Reiji Kurihara, is a consummate gourmet. Thanks to them, Tomo developed a strong sense of taste at a young age. While studying in London, she would have her international friends over for homemade food, which led to her interest in cooking. After returning to Japan, she began working as a chef in 2006. Kurihara introduces recipes in magazines as well as on TV. Moreover, she produced the Italian restaurant called 'Aponte', where she took on a wide range of activities - from inventing the menu to merchandising. In 2008, she was selected as a ASEAN food ambassador. Since 2010, she has been leading a cooking class at the United Arrows Kitchen. Her books include 'Zenbu Oishi' and 'Tomo Veggies'.