What is Japanese food? Sushi, or ramen, or kaiseki? What about Izakaya? Akiko Katayama, a Japanese native, New York-based food writer and director of the New York Japanese Culinary Academy, tells you all about real Japanese food and food culture. With guests ranging from sake producers with generations of experience to American chefs pushing the envelope of Japanese gastronomy, Japanese cuisine is demystified here!
The Art of Sushi: In-Depth Discoveries by a French Illustrator
Our guests are Franckie Alarcon and Marilyne Letertre. Franckie is an illustrator and comic artist based in Paris. He recently published a fabulous comic book, The Art of Sushi. The title sounds very ambitious, but he does not disappoint you. I first learned about the book by reading a recommendation by an experienced Japanese sushi chef.
The book is about Franckie and Marilyne’s adventures in Japan to discover real sushi. Their French perspective casts refreshing views on Japanese culture and Franckie objectively analyzes its essence in the book. There are many top-of-the-industry professionals featured in the book from a Michelin-starred chef to a fisherman, a rice farmer to a soy sauce maker, and they generously share their insights with you.
And because it is a comic book illustrated by Franckie himself, reading it is so much fun and you feel like you are visiting Japan and spending time with the characters.
In this episode, we will discuss how Franckie became so fascinated by sushi, so much so that he decided to write a book about it, the amazing characters in the book, what he learned from them, and much, much more!!!
(Marilyne is beautifully translating Franckie's French to English in this episode.)
In Pursuit of Sustainability With the Power of Koji
Our guest is Tetsuji Ishigaki who is a scientist and the president & CEO of SOI inc. based in Shizuoka, Japan. The company produces sustainable foods and ingredients using Japanese koji mold.
Tetsuji has a strong mission to help to create a fully sustainable society by providing healthy products. It sounds like a cliché but what he does is real. His family started a koji manufacturing business in 1739 and with the deepest understanding of the Japanese national mold, Tetsuji has been inventing unique items, such as delicious snack bars made with coffee grounds.
In this episode, we will discuss Tetsuji’s fascinating family history, what koji is and why it is so unique and powerful to produce sustainable products, fascinating examples of his delicious and sustainable foods like zero-waste coffee syrup, what koji can do beyond making fermented foods, and much, much more!!!
Exploring the World of Craft Sake With Michael Tremblay
Our guest is Michael Tremblay who is a Sake Samurai, international sake judge, sake sommelier, and certified sake educator based in Toronto, Canada.
Michael is also the co-author of the excellent new book “Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth” from Tuttle Publishing. This book is not an ordinary book on sake. It not only covers the basics of sake with unique insights but also discusses more advanced topics such as new rice varieties and water mineral contents and how these elements articulate the terroir in each region.
But make no mistake, this book is a fun read rather than a textbook, although you would learn so much from it without trying. You will also get to meet people from 35 breweries and other key players in the sake industry, such as koji providers and female toji.
In this episode, we will discuss how Michael became a renowned sake expert and educator, intriguing topics featured in his new book, including the latest trends of popular sake rice, how newly developed flower yeasts are changing the flavors of sake, Japan’s diverse regional terroir, and much, much more!!!
Stories of Japanese Tea: The Essence of Tradition and Who Are Sustaining (And Evolving) It
Our guest is Zach Mangan who is the co-founder of Kettl, the Japanese tea importer and distributor based in Fukuoka, Japan and New York.
Zach joined us in Episode 44 and talked about his love and passion for Japanese tea. Now, six years later, Zach has lots of updates to share with us.
In this episode, we will discuss this fascinating new book, Stories of Japanese Tea: The Regions, the Growers, and the Craft, what Zach offers at his new café and gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the latest Japanese tea trends in New York City, and much, much more!!!
The Troubles Shoguns Created in Japanese Food Markets (And How Ordinary Citizens Solved Them)
Our guest today is Akira Shimizu who is the associate professor of History at Wilkes University and his focus has been our favorite topic: food.
Professor Shimizu recently published an intriguing book titled, “Specialty Food, Market Culture, and Daily Life in Early Modern Japan: Regulating and Deregulating the Market in Edo, 1780–1870”.
The book features the very unique period of Japanese history. The Edo era was a more peaceful time than ever thanks to the strong leadership of the shoguns. But because of the strong shoguns, the food supply system was highly regulated and manipulated back then. Professor Shimizu unfolds how the system unfairly worked for small players and how they tried to change it with fascinating examples.
In this episode, we will discuss how the shoguns managed to eat the best of the best foods in the market, how privileged merchants enjoyed and suffered their status at the same time, how ordinary citizens bravely challenged the system, lessons we can learn from the Edo period, and much, much more!!!
Fostering Future Sushi Chefs in the U.S.
Our guest is Andy Matsuda, the founder and master sushi chef of Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles, California.
Traditionally, sushi-making was something not to be taught, but what you patiently learn by watching your master for years and years. But Andy’s work experience in the U.S. and deep understanding of the global sushi market led him to open the sushi school in 2002. Since then, many successful graduates have been offering sushi to the world and increasing its popularity even further.
In this episode, we will discuss how Andy became a master sushi chef himself, why he decided to open a sushi school in the U.S., a life-changing event that triggered his decision to do so, what Sushi Chef Institute provides to students, episodes of successful graduates, and much, much more!!!
Lots of Learning!!!
Even you are Japanese, why don’t you listen this program for your understanding to foods and ingredients correctly?
Akiko is a first class interviewer, has great guests on but she’s always able to draw the best and most interesting things out of them.
One of my favorite shows...
I’m a big fan of this show. Akiko brings the best and most interesting guests regarding Japanese cuisine and culture. I’m looking forward to every episode.