********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************

------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sesame Art 胡麻細工

At this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting, Davos 2012, Switzerland, Japanese cabinet office will sponsor a buffet party “Japan Night” for the capacity of 500 guests, and Umu has been honourably selected to be executive supervisor of the event. Despite such large scale of party and my team’s willingness to help, it is impossible to bring most of the team with me to the actual event, so instead, I decided to borrow their hands in creating sesame art centre-piece for the main table.
By slowly roasting sesame in a wok, we created sesame in variation of colours, from white to dark brown, and also with black sesame, we line them up one by one on a board which was already pre-sketched to arrange them into the design. I divided 23x15board into 16 smaller boards and gave one each to my team as homework over the Christmas holiday.
The design of this centre-piece focuses on a word “Japan” written by calligraphy artist Ms. Shishu, who was the designer of Umu logo, and he will also be giving a performance on the day of the party. The theme of the event “light” is as well written in Japanese below the word “Japan”, and according to the theme, sesame is arranged to create gradation on the background.  
For some, sesame is lined up perfectly to same direction while some are less meticulous, someone had to re-do due to mistake in colours while the other enjoyed so much that asked to do more. The outcome of the “homework” showed each of my team’s personality and that made this centre-piece more interesting than already was. I am very much looking forward for our team work to shine on the day.
毎年スイスのダボスで行われるダボス会議、世界経済フォーラムの中で日本国内閣府が主催する“Japan Night”の料理の総料理監修を、今年からUMUがすることになりました。500人ぐらいのお客さまを相手にしたブッフェパーティーですが、場所がスイスであるために、当店のスタッフを多く連れて行くことが出来ず、それでいて皆が協力したいと言う気持ちもひしひしと伝わって来たため、料理の仕込み意外に何か皆でできることと思い、メインテーブル中央に飾る看板を胡麻細工で作りました。

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Leach Pottery 陶芸家を訪ねて

As I mentioned in the previous post, recently I took a short trip to St. Ives to visit the fishing ports, but I also had one more objective for this trip, which was to visit Bernard Leach pottery. Even though I have always known the name, back in Japan I  concentrated more on the ceramic industry of Kansai region (southern-central region of Japan includes Kyoto & Osaka) where the methods and styles of pottery are very different from the methods used by Leach pottery, hence I did not get the opportunity to  study this worldly well-known ceramic artist as much as I would have liked. However I now realise, in order to pursue ceramic art in Britain, it is inevitable, I have to familiarise myself with this great artist, and that is exactly the reason for my visit.

 Currently at Leach pottery, a Japanese ceramist, Ms Midori Endo, is creating pottery as a part of the team alongside her own style of works. Her originals are, in comparison to other ceramists, relatively modern and their line is very sensitive and eye-catching. I even had the pleasure to meet Mr. Jack Doherty, the chief potter at the Leach pottery and a leading figure of the British ceramic art industry, and also had the privilege to observe his extraordinary works. I could not ask for more to enrich this trip. 

 現在そこでは遠藤みどりさんという日本人女性が作陶をされており、スタッフの一員としてリーチ工房の作品と並行してオリジナルの作品も作られていました。彼女の作品は他のスタッフと比べて意外にもモダンできれいな線のものが多く見られました。英国陶芸界の重鎮でチーフポッターであるJack Doherty氏にもお会いすることが出来、独特の銅釉をメインとした作品を見せていただきました。

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Freshest fish in Cornwall 鮮魚流通経路の開拓

The fish that circulate in London markets are dominated by those caught in the EU  with very few exception, hence variety is very limited unlike in Japan. In addition dissimilarity of fisherman’s opinions and problematic distribution channel make purchasing quality fish even harder. Nonetheless, it has been my goal to overcome these difficulties by visiting ports and challenging current distribution system, and finally, despite the craziness of the Christmas season, I found some time to visit the port of Newlyn, with a guide from a local fishmonger in  St. Ives, Cornwall. 

I would like to say special thanks to Ms. Naomi who guided me through the port and provided me with all the valuable information, from diversity of methods in fishing to each fisherman’s character, I was amazed by how knowledgeable she was. The owner of the fishmonger, Ms. Naomi’s father, was away on hunting so I could not have the honour to meet, however with their advantage of owning fishing boats and their knowledgeable back grounds, I have no doubt they’ll be great help in creating new route of distribution in near future. My dream of serving fish on the same day of unload seems not only dream anymore. 
Needless to say, the freshness and quality of the fish at the port are incomparable to the ones found at the markets in London, however still some are already few days old by the time they are unloaded from the ship. In order to be persistent on the freshness, smaller-scaled ship which returns to the port on same day seems to be only option that meets my expectation.

ロンドンで手に入る魚はEU内で獲られたものと、極わずかな例外に限定されます。そのために日本のように多種多様というわけにもいかず、また、漁師の意識、流通経路などの問題で日本のような魚は望むことは出来ません。それでもよりよい魚を求めるために各地の漁港を訪ねることは以前から自分への課題にしてきましたが、ようやくきっかけがつかめ、クリスマスシーズンの忙しさの中で時間を作り、コーンウォールの先端、St. Ives(セントアイビス)に行ってきました。そこにある魚屋さんに案内を受け、半島の南側にあるNewlynの漁港を見てきました。