Tokyo: Tokyo hosted the final round of “The Washoku World Challenge” recently. The Washoku World Challenge is a cooking contest in which Japanese cuisine chefs from across the world showcase their technical expertise and passion for Japanese food.
The contest, the fifth of its kind, was organised by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for non-Japanese chefs. For the first time, qualifying tournaments were held in six cities worldwide and more than 100 chefs from over 21 countries participated in it.
“UMAMI”, the source of savoriness of Japanese cuisine was the theme for the final stage of this year’s contest, held in Tokyo.
The six finalists were requested to make five sets of dishes, representing “UMAMI” in every dish. As ‘UMAMI’ is an important component of a Japanese dish’s overall flavour, chefs had to keep in mind to add one of the five basic tastes, the others being sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness in their dishes.
Kazuhiro Shimane of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, talked about the aim of the contest- making people around the world aware about it.
“Washoku” was registered as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage in 2013. It was a wish come true for all the people working in the Japanese culinary field with the registration of “Washoku” in UNESCO’s list, as it became a wonderful opportunity to share the allure of Japanese cuisine with the world.
“According to our survey, the number of Japanese restaurants abroad reached last year 118000 restaurants and this is double what the number was four years ago. We want more people around the world to know about “Washoku” and this is the aim of this contest.”
Chairman of Japanese Culinary Academy, Yoshihiro Murata said he would like to spread the competition to involve more cities with more media coverage.
“We would like to spread the competition to include more cities around the world and with more media coverage of “The “Washoku” World Challenge”. People would be interested to know who is the winner of each year’s competition, and that will make us happy.”
One of the finalists , Jidtinan Yotapakdee, expressed his love for Japanese food and how the competition made him learn more about the cuisine.
“I love Japanese food this is why I have been making “Washoku” for 17 years, and it has been a great opportunity to participate in this contest to learn even more about Japanese food.”
The popularity of Japanese cuisine has exploded worldwide. Although many chefs working in Japanese restaurants have not been trained in Japan, this doesn’t mean they do not know the cuisine well. In fact, the winner this year was a chef from the United States.
The “Washoku World Challenge” is open to anyone who wants to take the challenge of creating dishes that reflect the balance of flavor and “omotenashi”, or hospitality, which is the spirit of Japanese cuisine. This contest also shows that there are chefs all around the globe, who are sharpening and honing their Japanese cooking skills. (ANI)