LA Chef Jacob Kear’s great adventure back to Japan and Noma Tokyo

(Originally published December 31, 2014 on

The New Year kicks off with one of the world’s most anticipated dining events when the world’s number one ranked restaurant Noma relocates from Copenhagen to the Signature Restaurant on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo, Japan that starts January 9th and runs until February 14, 2015. Joining Noma‘s entire staff of sixty is LA Chef Jacob Kear whose culinary journey is taking him back to Japan and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as well as back to Noma in Tokyo.

Born to a Caucasian father, and Japanese mother in Burbank, Kear first went to Japan when he was only six months old. He moved back with his family to the San Jose, California when he was twelve. After completing culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, and working in a few hotel kitchens in both Los Angeles, and Orange County, Jacob won a national competition broadcast on the Food Network that caught the attention of a new restaurant in Korea where he became the executive chef at only twenty four years of age. In part due to visa issues, that job lasted only eight months, and Kear was then again back to Japan for another three years this time as a chef where he worked at the Tapas Molecular Bar on the thirty-eighth floor of Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo, one floor above Noma Tokyo‘s forthcoming location.

When Kear came back to the Southern California in 2010 he initially did a consulting gig in Orange County. Next he went to Lukshon and worked there with LA Chef Sang Yoon for six months prior to the opening until six months after opening, so for a year in total. After the next job he left Lukshon for failed to materialize, Jacob was off to stage at Noma in Copenhagen for three months in the spring of 2012. He came back again to Los Angeles spent six months at Eva before leaving that job and then worked as part of the Amalur Project with Chef Sergio Perera. More recently he’s been a private chef – “Dinners by Kear”- for a number A-List celebrities like Ryan Seacrest, Max Mutchnick, Alicia Keys, Leonardo DiCaprio and Miranda Kerr.

This past early summer Jacob wrote to Noma’s head chef Rene Redzepiwhen Noma announced that they were moving to Tokyo. In October, Jacob got a reply from Rene stating that if Jacob had Japanese citizenship, he was part of Noma’s team. Jacob is a dual citizen of the United States and Japan. Jacob left for Japan on December 26th to spend time with both his mom and his wife’s family living in Japan. He has also started posting a diary of his latest culinary adventure on his Instagram account “dinnerbykear” and invites everyone to follow him on instagram for the next two months when he works at Noma Tokyo and then does a stage for his final two weeks at the Three Star Michelin kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto, Japan.

Please also stayed tuned for the second part of this column that goes into more details on LA Chef Jacob Kear’s culinary journey outlined above.

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