Shigemi Kawahara, the Ramen King, is the founder of Ippudo, Japan’s highly acclaimed ramen emporium. He is also the founder and CEO of Ippudo’s parent company, Chikaranomoto Company, which includes some of Japan’s finest restaurants.
Kawahara earned the title of Ramen King and a place in the Ramen Hall of Fame after three consecutive first place wins on a Japanese television program where ramen mavens compete to create the best ramen.
Born and raised in Fukuoka City, Kyushu, Kawahara is the youngest of four brothers. He became interested in the restaurant and hospitality industry after graduating from college and consequently worked and trained in a number of European restaurants in Japan. In 1979, at the age of 27, Kawahara opened his first restaurant and bar After the Rain in Fukuoka city. Kawahara opened the first Ippudo with a seating of ten in his hometown in October 1985. Since then Ippudo has grown to include 50 ramen shops in Japan, serving nearly twenty six thousand customers per day.
Kawahara’s attention to detail and hospitality redefined Japan’s ramen experience. Ippudo was the first ramen shop that allowed diners to enjoy quality ramen in a carefully crafted setting. Kawahara sees the restaurant as a stage, where each employee plays a role like an actor. From cooking to serving, every move is choreographed to perfect timing, even down to the moment when the staff bids a customer goodbye.
Kawahara’s philosophy – To constantly innovate while preserving tradition – is what has brought Ippudo to where it is today.