A specialist in robata, sushi and sashimi and with an extensive knowledge of Japanese cuisine, Christian Onia is Executive Chef at Notting Hill’s favorite neighborhood restaurant, SUMI. SUMI, from the team behind Michelin-starred Endo at Rotunda, is the more casual yet elegant little sister, serving a delicious range of sushi and Japanese dishes.
Onia has worked in a variety of top restaurants for over a decade and has extensive experience in all aspects of a successful kitchen, from menu development and staff training to restaurant operations.
Working closely with sushi master Endo Kazutoshi, Onia is responsible for leading the entire kitchen team as well as creating and executing the menu. Onia and Kazutoshi are passionate about using only the highest quality products and impeccable ingredients, sourced from world-class suppliers. Signature new dishes on the menu include Seafood Gohan loaded with scallops, octopus, king prawns, squid, mussels, clams, trout roe and shrimp dashi, and kombu-aged ribeye with brown butter ponzu, kizami wasabi and yuzu salt .
We caught up with the chef to find out more.
Christian Onia is Executive Chef at SUMI in Notting Hill, London
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are professionally today and what brought you here?
I originally trained as a graphic designer but fell in love with the sushi art form after a Japanese bar popped up at the studio I worked at. In 2008 I left graphic design to train as a sushi chef and started my first job at the Japanese restaurant Hakuba on Tottenham Court Road.
I also previously worked as Executive Chef at the contemporary Japanese restaurant ROKA Charlotte Street and before that at INKO NITO. I have also held managerial positions at Jason Atherton’s Sosharu in Clerkenwell and OXO Tower Restaurant at Harvey Nichols.
I’m now Executive Chef at SUMI, the casual yet elegant Notting Hill Japanese and sushi restaurant founded by the team behind Michelin-starred Endo at the Rotunda.
What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Kitchen culture, I love the thrill and excitement of being in the kitchen.
Who was your biggest influence to get you where you are today?
What’s your signature dish?
I treat every single dish like it’s my signature dish, so I really can’t decide on one!
What are the key considerations when creating your menu?
Our guests, their taste and their overall experience.
Do your personal preferences affect the menu at all?
Notting Hill’s favorite neighborhood restaurant, SUMI is casual yet elegant, serving a delicious selection of sushi and Japanese dishes
How would you describe your cooking style?
Honest and simple.
Do you have a favorite season or set of ingredients you’re looking forward to?
Fall – I love this time of year, the way the weather and leaves change and the ingredients this season brings.
What is your favorite ingredient to create with?
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
I would be an artist!
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
When are you happiest?
When I’m with my family.
What is your favorite kitchen appliance?
I have no; I believe that every item in the kitchen has its own purpose and benefits.
When you’re not in the kitchen, where can you find yourself?
In the woods or on the beach, next to my wife!
Onia and Kazutoshi are passionate about using only the highest quality products and impeccable ingredients, sourced from world-class suppliers
What is your favorite takeout or home cooking?
Spicy Wings – the ultimate comfort food!
Where do you like to eat?
What do you think is the most hyped food trend?
Boba milk tea!!!!
What differences do you find working with local versus non-local in terms of what you can create and taste?
Every element and food type has its own unique qualities and I strive to bring these out in every dish. At SUMI we are passionate about using local ingredients that celebrate both the gift of land and the sea.
How do you go about planning the menu? What is the process from selecting the ingredients to delivering them fresh to the kitchen and dishes?
When it comes to food, I’m spontaneous and sometimes I just come up with ideas that flow into items on the menu. I like to show my artistic side and am always excited when it comes to creating things.
Guests can relax in SUMI’s stylish new surroundings
How would you describe the food you create at SUMI to someone who has never experienced your type of food?
Again, just like my personal style, the food at SUMI is honest, simple and full of energy!
What’s your favorite flavor combination?
Umami, umami, umami.
If you could describe your restaurant in three words, what would they be?
Pure, honest and innovative.
Taking care of your own mental health is a big issue in the hospitality industry. How do you find the right work-life balance and how do you support your team to do the same?
I’m really lucky to have a great family; My wife has always supported and encouraged me to create a good work-life balance. This always accommodates my team’s requests for time off or vacations, as I want them to be free to enjoy their days away from the kitchen. In return I always ask them to give me 100% of their passion, energy and creativity. Because of this way of working, there is always a positive energy at SUMI!
What are your future plans?
My goal is to help shape, or at least help shape, the next generation of chefs.
Address: 157 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2RS
Phone: 020 4524 0880
E-mail: [email protected]
All images provided by SUMI London