Norwich-trained chef supports Japan earthquake victims

A former Norfolk chef now living in Japan is supporting the country's relief effort by handing over a week's takings from his restaurant.

Trevor Blyth, who was brought up in Poringland, near Norwich, said his business emerged relatively unscathed from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake earlier this month.

The 42-year-old, who runs The White Fox in Oji, Kita ku, Tokyo, said: 'After the first little shake it didn't stop. It got more and more and more and more. We lost a lot of glasses, but there wasn't a lot of damage to my place.'

The quake struck at 3.30pm, as staff prepared for a busy dinner service.

'We had a very full restaurant booked, but all our reservations cancelled. Every single person called to apologise that they couldn't come,' said Mr Blyth, who trained at Norwich City College's Hotel School.

With trains across the city cancelled, the restaurant picked up some customers as they walked home.

However, by the Saturday, the chef realised last week would be a quiet one for his business, which serves a mixture of French and Japanese cuisine.

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Mr Blyth, who moved to Japan in 2010, decided the best way to draw in customers would be to use his restaurant to support the country's relief efforts.

The former Framingham Earl High School pupil said: 'We're giving away a whole week's takings to the tsunami fund. It's worked very well – we've had quite a lot of people come and support us.

'We can afford to take that loss because we are very well aware that people have lost so much more just 150 miles up the road.'

Mr Blyth hoped the restaurant, which seats about 18 people, would have raised 400,000 Japanese yen, or just over �3,000.

Despite warnings from the government over radiation threats from the country's damaged nuclear plants, the chef, who married wife Hiromi seven years ago, wants to stay in Japan. He said he was 'not worried at all' about the risk, which he believes has been exaggerated by some newspapers. He added: 'Radiation in Tokyo has been normal, absolutely normal. Our concern is mostly about friends in the devastated areas.

'Westerners in Tokyo don't want to leave – they really, really want to help. They are quite happy to ignore their government's or embassy's advice to leave. They know they can do a lot to help here.'

Mr Blyth moved away from Norfolk at the age of 20 and spent a decade working in London, Berkshire and France. He opened The White Fox in 2006.

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