********** 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 ------------

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Young chef’s competition and visiting Portuguese fisherman 和食コンペティションとポルトガルの伝統漁師

November last year, a preliminary round of a competition for rising young chefs specialising in Japanese cuisine overseas, an event sponsored by the ministry of agriculture, held in London before the final round taking place Japan. I was appointed as a chairman of the occasion as well as a demonstrator.
An established food writer Mr. Matthew Fort, celebrity chefs, Mr. Brett Graham from Ledbury and Mr. Yasuhiro Mineno from Yashin Ocean House, had formed a judging committee.
Daniel from Yashin Ocean House and Pzemyslaw from our very own Umu team had been selected to compete after passing the requirements of holding non-Japanese nationality and working as a resident chef in London-based Japanese restaurant, and both chefs disputed with Wagyu beef being the theme ingredient. The contestants handled the unaccustomed ingredient with their utmost effort, creating dishes with high degree of integrity. After a close race, Daniel won by an extremely slim margin, and gained a ticket to Japan.
To keep up with the topic “Japanese culinary manners to ingredients”, a demonstration consisted of introduction to Ikejime fish preserving techniques, moreover as an interpretation of Japanese concept “Mottainai” – a term expressing remorse towards waste – I performed cooking methods that can consume every part of fish from its head, bone and even to its guts.
One of the merchants in the audience, who deals fish from Portugal, showed great interest in the Ikejime technique, and subsequently I tried out a range of fish received from him on several occasions. The surprisingly extremely high quality fish, which in addition had extraordinary freshness compare to London market, were unlike those belong to cold-water within the proximity of Britain, but comprised of fish generally preferring warm water such as bonito, longtooth grouper and sea bream, and for its rarity, I gradually added to Umu’s menu.
Having to see keen curiosity of a group of Portugese fishermen towards Ikejime technique, and being enchanted with traditional thread fishing contributing to the local market by sustaining good quality fish, I visited Portugal at the end of the year.
After a short 3-days stay in Lisbon, I headed towards Algarve region in the south to meet Pedro, a middleman in the distribution line. Courtesy to his guide, I got to enjoy varieties of fresh natural ingredients such as local seafood, shellfish, Iberian black pork and an olive oil, some of which are rarely seen in UK.
Regrettably due to Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, fishing boats being out on the shore were almost none, and understandably fish could only be seen sparsely at the auction too.  Nonetheless with Pedro’s arrangement, we managed to locate a sea bass, on which I demonstrated ikejime to the fishermen. They watched with eagerness and growing interest in their eyes, and we part ways with a promise to teach the technique once again in the future, but next time would be on the boat with the freshest fish.  

著名なフードライターのMatthew Fort、セレブリティーシェフ、LedburyBrett Graham, Yashin ocean houseの峯野シェフが審査委員会として駆けつけてくれました。
コンペティションは和牛をテーマにロンドンの日本料理店で働く日本人国籍を持たない、将来を期待される料理人という条件で選抜され、Yashin ocean houseDanielと当店UMUPrzemyslawのあいだで争われました。二人とも使い慣れない和牛を一生懸命使いこなし、完成度の高い料理を作っていました。接戦の末、非常に僅差でDanielが勝ち、日本行の切符を手にしました。