Chef's Thoughts on Tokyo:
Uniting the Community through Homemade Chilean Cuisine and Soccer

From volunteering after the 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake to establishing a 25-year-long international futsal tournament in Tokyo, Eduardo Ferrada, owner of Chilean restaurant, Casa de Eduardo in Shin-Nakano, certainly has a story to tell.
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Eduardo Ferrada volunteers to take tourists around Tokyo, showcasing the city's beautiful sites and culture.

In 1983, in his hometown Maipú, Chile, Ferrada saw an advertisement in his local newspaper that drastically changed his life. It was for a job at a Japanese telecommunications company. Out of two hundred candidates, he was selected and relocated to Japan. 

Building Community through Soccer

Like most Chileans, Ferrada loves soccer, a passion he wanted to share with Japan. In 1992, he established his own futsal tournament, Copa Chile (Chile Cup in Spanish). In total, there were 32 teams from 17 countries including Japan, a resounding success after a difficult start with no support or sponsors. By the third year, he was about to give up on holding the event because of the debt he had accumulated, but sponsors including the Japan Football Association (JFA) stepped in, and the Copa Chile was able to continue for 25 years till 2016. All the champions' names are engraved on the Copa Chile trophy, displayed at Casa de Eduardo.

Ferrada became increasingly well known for his expertise in soccer and obtained a license to be a soccer player agent. He contributed to the soccer community in Japan, taking Japanese high school soccer teams to Peru, Chile, and Argentina as a volunteer. 

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Chilean empanada containing beef, raisins, and olives, topped with fresh salsa. Ferrada makes his pastry from scratch every day.

Cooking for the People

Opening a restaurant was not Ferrada's first business endeavor. After his first job in Japan he lived and worked in Nagano Prefecture, before deciding to set up his own business in translation in Tokyo. However, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, he was tasked to guide news reporters from Chile around Fukushima City and Sendai City, in the area north of Tokyo called the Tohoku region. After witnessing the devastation, Ferrada and his Spanish friend Jorge Díaz decided to volunteer by preparing meals of homemade Chilean food for the people that had been displaced. Faced with the mammoth task of feeding hundreds of people, they prepared bulk servings of Chilean classics like steaks, salad, and roast chicken. Everybody loved their cooking, so much so that he was inspired to make his own restaurant in Tokyo. At first, he opened a restaurant with Díaz in 2012, and then on his own in 2013. 

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A typical homemade Chilean dish, beef steak with salad and rice, topped with oregano.

As a counterpart to his translation business, Ferrada enjoys serving food because of all the different kinds of people he has the chance to meet. He loves to prepare food for others, especially on a large scale like he did in Tohoku. He runs his restaurant with the saying that "you should always cook as if you're cooking for your own children."

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Casa de Eduardo is a one-minute walk away from Shin-Nakano Station in Nakano City, Tokyo.

Ferrada's cooking takes inspiration from his grandmother's cooking and simple homemade Chilean dishes. In fact, he still has his grandmother's original recipes on his menu, such as her roast lamb with mashed potatoes. Characterized by generous portions of high-quality meat, and light seasoning to let the ingredients shine, Chilean food is hearty and comforting. Ferrada keeps the seasoning of his food minimal, true to Chilean taste and to keep the natural flavor of the ingredients. He sources most of his produce from Tokyo, as the "quality is good."

Ferrada enjoys living in Tokyo as it is very cosmopolitan, saying "you can meet people from all over the world." As a businessman, he comments that "Tokyo is very friendly towards entrepreneurs" offering a variety of services for ventures. His advice to those considering starting a business is to "not be afraid to ask," adding that many people just want to help.

Ferrada is now 67 years old, and he has lived most of his life in Japan. He has therefore promised that when he turns 75, he will return to Chile to give back to his home country. Until then, he will be in Casa de Eduardo, where you can find homemade Chilean cuisine and a good story or two. 

Interview and writing by Laura Miyasaka and Gabriela Mancey-Jones
Photos by Kuratani Kiyofumi