1 Oct 2023 By May Ng

Can Architecture and Nature Inspire Chefs?

This October, Shishi-Iwa House, a collection of architectural masterpieces in a nature sanctuary in Karuizawa, brings together five chefs for a private culinary retreat to explore the roots of creativity

How does an environment catalyze the creative process? Can quality architecture impact emotions and enhance wellbeing? Can spark start from a place of stillness?

This was the impetus for Shishi-Iwa House’s first private culinary retreat, where five selected chefs were invited to bask in its tranquil setting in a nature sanctuary in Karuizawa. Shishi-Iwa House, a collection of three architectural masterpieces designed by Pritzker Prize laureates Shigeru Ban and Ryue Nishizawa, has become a favored retreat hotel for creatives and aesthetes looking to disconnect, to be restored and rejuvenated. Its restaurant Shola, championing provenance on the plate in a way that is contemplative and contemporary, has become a popular destination restaurant for the surrounding prefectures.

Over four days surrounded by a breathtaking autumnal landscape, the chefs – Ricardo Chaneton (Mono, Hong Kong), Jordy Navarra (Toyo Eatery, Manila), Johanne Siy (Lolla, Singapore), Barry Quek (Whey, Hong Kong), and Griffin Coleman (Sower, Lake Biwa, Japan) – will go on nature hikes, huddle over fireside chats with artisans, visit local farms and purveyors, and in the evenings, riff in the kitchen with Shola chef Masashi Okamoto, experimenting with local ingredients.

Shishi-Iwa House’s annual Culinary Retreat is an experimentation in collaborative creativity, exploring the intersection of architecture, nature, and gastronomy. The chefs were chosen for their reverence for seasonal ingredients, close collaborations with local farmers, and groundbreaking culinary approaches.

“At a time when chefs are under greater pressure, we hope this experience provides a much needed ‘pause’ and an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by each other, pushing culinary boundaries while exploring the transformative power of nature and architecture” says Shishi-Iwa House Founder Huy Hoang.

For more information about Shishi-Iwa House, please visit: