Thursday, February 26, 2009

World Gastronomy Summit

Nobu Mastuhisa, Ferrán Adriá, Joel Robuchon and Heston Blumenthal

by Yukari Sakamoto

Tokyo was the host to the World Gastronomy Summit on February 9-11, 2009. Top chefs from around the world presented, many of them including Japanese ingredients or techniques in their cuisine.
Former Prime Minister Junichi Koizumi opened the summit stating, “There is nothing better than eating delicious food that is good for us”.
Chef Joel Robuchon praised Japanese cuisine and its use of seasonality ingredients, delicate and meticulous presentation and use of umami. He also said that he noticed the reverence and pride Japanese have for produce and ingredients. He said that the cuisine has influenced his food.
Chef Pierre Gagnaire was enthusiastic about the quality of seafood in Japan. In particular, he is currently fascinated with tairagai, a large shellfish with a rich texture. He said that in Paris now, ingredients like yuzu and kombu are very fashionable ingredients.
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa talked about trying to get foreigners to eat raw fish thirty years ago. And, as people weren’t familiar with the texture, or even the concept of eating raw fish, he created some of his signature dishes now similar to sashimi salads with rich dressings, searing the outside of the fish, or creating ceviches.
Chef Ferrán Adriá said that Japanese chefs Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori Ryugin, chef Tokuoka of Kitcho and chef Nobu have changed his life. “Japanese food is pure and simple.” And that in his kitchen now he is using many sea vegetables and citrus fruits like yuzu.
It was evident that many non-Japanese chefs are curious and passionate about Japanese cuisine. They all agreed that there is so much to learn and that seasonality is key, the respect for ingredients, and the high quality of seafood, so fresh that much of it can be eaten raw. Many chefs have been influenced in their own cuisine with Japanese ingredients and techniques and that the will continue to explore the cuisine and culture of Japan.

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