Covid-19 times – reflections with Thomas Frebel

Thomas Frebel of Inua in Tokyo has responded to my questions with audio recordings, just as he did when interviewed him for the first time (last year for Gelinaz – the interview is here). And just like last time, I started writing down his answers. But then I thought I was this way taking away something. Why not publishing the responses the way I received them? It’s always a great pleasure to listen to Thomas’ thoughts, so I am sharing them with you in the same way as I received them. Enjoy listening!

How did your city change because of the virus?

“The scariest thing is that Tokyo didn’t change!”


What was your first thought when coronavirus appeared and how do you see it now?

Thomas talks of the first shock when an entire boat was quarantined in Japan and so he got aware through this that something very serious was going on as otherwise an action like this, wouldn’t be allowed. He also talks about his hopes of a better world that could wake up after this. The world right now has millions of soldiers and weapons, but not enough medics and equipment for them.


How are you spending these days?

Thomas is thinking of best and worse case scenarios – about what will Inua become after this crisis and how to keep supporting the team, as well as the suppliers during and after the crisis.


This is a hard time for all working in hospitality – also for the suppliers of restaurants, farmers, those who offer services to the restaurants. What should we do to support each other and survive also economically?

About Inua’s non-profit project, the “farmers’ care package” – Inua is supporting their farmers by selling their produce  to the staff and later also to guests/clients of the restaurant. Thomas talks also of what really success means to him and this are not awards and lists but being able to provide for his team and Inua’s farmers to have a happy and fulfilling life without financial worries. He also talks about the shift of values and priorities.


What are you doing to remain positive?

Seeing light in this darkness. We are not sent out with a gun, we don’t need to leave our homes to escape war. We just need to stay home to protect ourselves and other people.


How do you see life after coronavirus? Do you think it will provoke some change in your life and work?

About his hope that we all will learn to take a better care of ourselves. Living healthier, cleaner life, with more self-awareness and about shifting our priorities and values.


Do you have any message for other chefs around the world?

We are all together in this. Each of us is affected and I suppose everybody is willing to support each other when the time is right.  It is time for dialogue, for brainstorming to rebuld the industry stronger than ever.

Thomas with the farmers

Andreja Lajh

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