With promising young talents like Yamazaki Kento (山崎賢人) and Fukushi Sota (福士蒼汰) heating up your screen these days, you may not be able to conjure up the image of Mokomichi Hayami (速水もこみち) readily in your mind, even if you have heard his name before. But what if I told you that he was the hunky and dishy robot in the hugely popular Zettai Kareshi (絶対彼氏) or Absolute Boyfriend? Or the juvenile delinquent with a heart of gold in Gokusen 2 (ごくせん)? Surely, you might realize who I’m talking about.
How about I tell you that his cooking is so awesome that he is widely regarded as the “Jamie Oliver of Japan”? Let’s learn more about this versatile and talented actor-cook!
This half-Filipino, half-Japanese hunk first burst onto the entertainment scene in 2002 and soon charmed his way into the hearts of impressionable teenage girls (and then some) everywhere with his tall figure (he is an impressive 1.86m, or 6″1, tall!), dashing good looks, and solid acting.
Other than his talent for acting, he is also deeply passionate about cooking, having stayed glued to the phenomenal cooking television program, Iron Chef (料理の鉄人), when he was eight. He also had a real-life role model for a brother, who enjoyed whipping up dishes.
All this left an indelible impression in Hayami’s mind, and he took up cooking as a hobby. The saying “do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life” worked out splendidly for him as he was offered a regular slot dedicated to his cooking on ZIP!, Nippon Television (日本テレビ) Network’s morning news program, in 2011. As he is affectionately known as “Moco” in Japan, his program is called Moco’s Kitchen.
Moco’s Kitchen presently enjoys immense popularity among Japanese viewers as they like his affable and light-hearted way of hosting the show. Several years on, it is still going strong, with Hayami having showcased more than 1,400 of his own recipes from a diverse range of cuisines, such as Italian, French, Japanese and Chinese!
Not content to rest on his laurels, Hayami Mokomichi turned his hand to penning down his recipes in a series of cookbooks titled Moco’s Kitchen. His six books were an instant hit as cooking devotees and food lovers devoured more than 500 recipes that he used on his TV show.
In fact, over 350,000 copies of his books have been snapped up, and the hype surrounding them does not seem to be dying down anytime soon. This phenomenal success can be attributed to how Hayami thoughtfully streamlines his cooking process so that the steps are easy for his viewers to follow and duplicate.
Hayami’s dedication to his craft is unparalleled. For his third recipe book, Trattoria MOCO: Italian food I Want to Eat with You, (きみと食べたいイタリアン) he even went all the way to Italy so that he could acquire authentic and traditional Italian cooking techniques! Indeed, his fervent love for cooking won him the respect of food critics – and they awarded him with a Best Japanese Cuisine Cookbook Award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris in 2013.
Eager to explore new frontiers, Hayami Mokomichi continues to inspire his viewers by venturing out of his comfort zone to try out novel things and take him on exciting culinary journeys. Although he visited Singapore for the first time in October 2016, he was able to make shrewd observations about the similarities and differences between Singaporean and Japanese cuisines and even create his own fusion dishes!
One fusion dish he created was the Singapore Butter Chicken Curry with Rice Noodles. Unlike Singapore-style noodles, his dish serves the noodles and chicken curry soup separately so that one can dip the noodles into the soup. This is exactly like how one would eat tsukemen (つけ麺), a Japanese noodle dish! Similarly, he incorporated chili crab, the quintessential Singapore dish, into paella (Spanish seafood rice), imbuing it with a tantalizing sweet and spicy sauce!
These two creations, along with another dish called Hainanese chicken rice salad, were prominently featured in a special episode of Moco’s Kitchen. Food bonds people together, so it was great seeing him bridge cultures by synthesizing the best elements of foods from two different cuisines into one original dish.
Exuding style and substance, Hayami Mokomichi is the perfect person whose face you can put on a brand. He probably realizes this also, as he joined forces with Catador, a farm in Spain, to produce his original olive oil that is fruity, yet spicy at the same time, in 2013. Talk about breaking new ground!
He then launched his own kitchen brand, Mocomichi Hayami, in June 2016. Showcasing top-notch tools that he uses frequently on his show, this brand is the crystallization of Hayami’s collaborative efforts with many domestic and international manufacturers alike. It is certainly heartwarming to see how his product line of kitchen items brings Japanese brands such as Tosa Dragon to the limelight!
What’s really amazing about Hayami is that he still finds time for acting pursuits even as he chalks up accomplishments for his culinary career.
Not only did he act as the swoon-worthy English lecturer in the hit drama From Five to Nine (5時から9時まで～私に恋したお坊さん～), which also featured Ishihara Satomi (石原さとみ) and Yamashita Tomohisa (山下智久), he was the male lead in Saigo no Okurimono (最後の贈り物), an NHK drama special for 2016. It is certainly inspiring how he manages to carve up the time to develop himself as a multi-faceted artist!
Hayami Mokomichi initially got interested in cooking by watching Iron Chef. He emphasizes how we should stay true to the things that energize us, and work hard at developing our passions into formidable strengths.
Hayami’s dual career track does not seem to be letting up soon, as his new drama Honjitsu wa, Ohigara mo Yoku (本日は、お日柄もよく) is now showing on television. It is also likely that his trip to Singapore will propel him to visit other countries and create more fusion dishes for his cooking show. Let’s all stay tuned into Hayami Mokomichi’s future endeavors as he blazes new trails for both his acting and cooking!