Angelo Sato

Angelo Sato

Angelo Sato

Angelo Sato sharpened his skills at some of the world's most illustrious restaurants. The opening of his Soho yakitori concept Humble Chicken in 2021 was met with acclaim, winning a Michelin star in 2024, and has only cemented his reputation as one of the country's most exciting chefs.

Angelo Sato’s CV is a whistle-stop tour of some of the world’s most decorated restaurants. There’s Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred RyuGin and its two-star NARISAWA, New York’s three-star Eleven Madison Park, three-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, one-star Trinity and two-star Restaurant Story. It's a formidable culinary background, and one which makes it easy to understand why, when combined with his obvious talent, Angelo has become one of the UK's most interesting chefs.

Today, he heads up his Michelin-starred Soho restaurant Humble Chicken, blending Japanese flavours with flecks of European inspiration, but Angelo’s cooking career began at fifteen, when he first entered a professional kitchen. Born in Japan, he’d spent the years before chipping in with the cooking at home, but decided early on that a culinary career was on the cards (‘I’ve always gravitated towards the kitchen,’ he says). In his first job, he quickly learned that the experienced chefs were reluctant to let newer recruits take on much more than pot washing until they knew what they were doing, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

‘I wanted to learn how to do it well, so I went to the fish market and asked one of the guys who had a shop there if I could work for free,’ he says. ‘It was early starts, so I’d go there in the morning and he’d give me loads of fish to fillet. I wasn’t very good to start with but his regular customers would come in and buy it at a cheaper price.’ It was early evidence of the can-do, ambitious approach which has underpinned much of Angelo's career. Commis chef stints at the prestigious RyuGin and NARISAWA gave him his first taste of Michelin-level cooking, but, having fallen in love with intensity of the kitchen – six-day weeks and eighteen-hour days weren't rarities – he decided he needed more responsibility, hopping on a plane aged seventeen and moving to London. There, he turned up at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay to ask head chef Clare Smyth for a trial.

It paid off. After a year there, he took on a role as sous chef at Adam Byatt’s Trinity, which, when he looks back, he says was instrumental in his development as a chef. He describes Adam as a mentor whose deep love for food was evident. ‘There are some people who love food, and there are others who love food on social media,’ he laughs. ‘Adam was properly passionate about it.’ It was there that he met Tom Sellers, who he would later join at Restaurant Story. First, though, was a trans-Atlantic move to join Daniel Humm’s renowned Eleven Madison Park as sous chef, where the team's laser sharp focus on connecting with customers really stood out. ‘They would do anything they could to enhance the guest experience,’ he says. ‘Everyone was so professional and just communicated really well.’

Back in the UK, he joined Tom’s Restaurant Story, taking on his first head chef role as the restaurant opened (it gained its first Michelin star within five months, and its second in 2021). ‘There’s a stage for every new restaurant when you need someone to work stupid hours – there’s not as many staff, it’s not fully booked to begin with and that’s kind of what I was doing, working six, seven days a week in charge of everything,' he says. That experience no doubt proved to be particularly useful when Angelo moved on to launch his own concepts, including bento box-focused Mission Sato, Omoide, which had a menu of chirashi sushi bowls and dashi, and Yatai, a katsu sando brand. Having spent years in Michelin-starred, largely classical kitchens, it also marked a return to his Japanese roots. 

In 2021, Angelo opened his debut solo restaurant Humble Chicken in Soho, inspired by the traditions of Tokyo's izakayas. There, he served a yakitori menu which celebrated every part of the chicken, from the cartilage to the knee. The precise, deft skill required to elevate so many different elements ensured Humble Chicken quickly caught the capital's attention, attracting rave reviews from prominent critics and a slew of bookings. With the pandemic still looming in the background, it was, Angelo says, a precarious time to open a business. ‘When we opened, we did so with no cash flow, so we had to be busy within the first three weeks – there was no other option,’ he says.

As 2022 came to a close, Angelo made another bold decision – Humble Chicken would shed its a la carte yakitori focus, replaced instead by an eight-course Japanese tasting menu with a European accent. It was, given its original iteration's success, a risky move, but one which paid off. Today, Humble Chicken 2.0 is a celebration of Angelo's roots and career so far, underpinned by a touch of kitchen theatre. ‘We’re trying to create this really kind of fun, theatrical dining experience, that’s really chef and front of house led,’ he says. ‘We want it to be really interactive for the guests. I always try to think of what I love from a dining experience when I go out. Food is obviously really important, but you could say it’s 50% of the experience. I realised it was as much about the service and how they made you feel.’

Though an intimate, yakitori-led concept is on the cards for the future, for the time being his focus is squared on Humble Chicken, the truest expression so far of who he is as a chef. That's not to say, of course, that he doesn't have one eye on the future. ‘I always begin with the end in mind, but I’m just really focused on here to be honest,’ he says. ‘I want to get a site that is mine, that I can design from start to finish and really take to the next level.’

In 2024, Angelo won his first Michelin star at Humble Chicken.