In a development synonymous with luxury lies a true escape from Leeds. Welcome to Issho. Since its opening, Victoria Gate has become the place in Leeds for high end shopping. It also boasts some incredible restaurants, including Issho, a Japanese concept restaurant which proudly looks out over the city below. Issho has quickly become a favourite restaurant for people of all ages and backgrounds. The luxurious yet minimalistic setting is inviting. The team are a well oiled machine who make every moment in the restaurant and bar a dream, and the chefs are the magicians who concoct culinary delights which dance across your palate all night long. With such a thriving and busy business it’s impossible for every customer to get to sit down with the chef, and that’s a great shame in our books. The passion they bring is part of what sets Issho apart, so to bring you closer to the action, we sat down with Head Chef “Shane” to bring you a more personal insight into this hectic kitchen world. Here’s what she had to say… Meet Shane – Issho Q – Where are you originally from? A – Weike (Shane) Zhao started off her career and passion for cooking back in 2009 at a Japanese restaurant called Wafu in Melbourne, Australia. Instantly she knew she had a love for Japanese food and the flavours and colours that are created. Throwing herself into the deep end, Shane had two or three jobs on the go to ensure she gained diverse knowledge and understanding of the art of Japanese cooking. Q – When did you first become interested in cooking? A – Watching friends and family cooking. Q – What changes have you seen, if any, in the way the restaurant world has changed? ie have peoples tastes changed, do people expect more nowadays etc..? A – Shane was offered the opportunity to help transform a French restaurant into a Japanese restaurant, also in Melbourne. She took a step up as sous chef here. An opportunity in her career to not only develop her passion of cooking, but to create new menus in a fresh opening. The world seems a lot more open to new flavours, styles of cooking and ways of eating. Q – What has been your biggest success to date? A – Working under a chef from Per Se learning in depth the techniques and more importantly the development of her own cooking style. She continued in different areas as a sous chef in a 1 hat restaurant (Australian equivalent to a Michelin star). This was outside Melbourne in the No.1 top winery in Australia called Mount view. Shane was then also instrumental in helping Issho feature in the Michelin Guide. Q – What’s the must try dish on your menu? A – The Tomato Salad with whipped tofu is an absolute favourite, particularly with anyone on a vegan diet. Our new Japanese-inspired Afternoon Tea is something really spectacular too and would recommend it is a treat or a way into Japanese food that may be a little more familiar. Q – What would be your tip for upcoming chefs? A – Learn from the best and keep pushing yourself to do things out of your comfort zone. Q – What are the 3 main components to running a successful restaurant? A – Fresh food, a great team and something unique that makes your restaurant stand out Q – What do you hope people think when they’ve dined with you? A – We want to experience Japanese food in a way they may be unfamiliar with, taking traditional recipes and recreating them with a contemporary element in minimalist surroundings. It’s all about the quality ingredients. Q – Finally, If you could summarise, what do you believe good cooking is all about? A – Good cooking takes time, lots of work goes into the preparation in Japanese food, with traditionally short cooking times.