Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
Time in Japan:
Two years (this time)
Where are you from?
Born and raised in LA.
What brought you to Japan?
This time around, the Tokyo American Club brought me here. Actually I wanted to come back
What were you doing first time around?
Originally I was here with Hyatt International, who were opening up the Park Hyatt Hotel
in Shinjuku. I was opening the New York Grill six years ago. At first there was nothing
there - bare walls and bare floors. But I had the chance to watch it grow and become one
of the best restaurants in Japan.
What do you do now?
I am Food and Beverage Director of the Tokyo American Club.
What is the Tokyo American Club?
We are one of Asia' largest private clubs and one of the top five largest clubs anywhere
in the world. We have a membership of about 12,000 active users. One third of the members
are American, one third Japanese and one third made up of 56 other nationalities. Some of
the services on offer here are a FedEx counter, the third largest English library in
Tokyo, the largest English video library in Japan where we get videos released the same
day as in America, recreation facilities like squash courts, tennis courts, a swimming
pool, etc., and tons of activities for families and pre-school kids the works. We also
offer services and support for accompanying expat spouses, like Japanese classes and
What does the Food and Beverage Director do?
I am responsible for anything to do with food and drink at the club - service, production,
training and staffing. In peak season there are nine restaurants and bars and lots of
banquet events. The club is about the size of a 850 room hotel without the hotel rooms. In
a hotel customers check in and check out, but here you get to know people very well
because they never check out. It's very personal and that's one of the nicest aspects of
Did you always want to be in the hotel business?
No, I wanted to be an attorney. When I was at the University of Jerusalem my major was
Middle Eastern Affairs and International Law. Much to my family's disappointment I got my
first job with Hyatt when they were opening their hotel in Jerusalem. I was a bartender. I
just progressed, worked in different areas, and eventually became Food and Beverage
Director. It's been a long eleven years but it also feels like yesterday.
What's your weirdest experience in Japan?
It was actually a cultural learning experience. When I first arrived, I was on the
shinkansen eating a bento, and there was a family of four sitting around me. I had to do
something that required both hands so I had to put my chopsticks somewhere. So I stabbed
them right in the middle of my rice. I've never seen four people get up and run so fast. I
learned a valuable lesson, of course, never to stab chopsticks into rice because it's
symbolic of death. We all learn Japanese culture and traditions the hard way!
What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
A lot of understanding, a circle of really close friends and the ability to absorb what's
going on around you and blend into Japanese traditions and culture as far as possible.