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

Thursday, 8 June 2017

London craft week 2017 ロンドンクラフトウィーク

This year, Umu participated in the most grand crafts and arts festival in London, an annual London Craft Week for the first time. Whether cooking is a form of craft or art is a rhetorical question that is repeatedly asked over many generations, and while the question remains somewhat insignificant to me, what becomes more and more apparent as I pursue cookery and delighting guests experience is that products of crafts and arts are essential culinary accompaniments. My activities in London has caught eyes of the organizers and subsequently received an offer to host the event.

Artists and creators of the culinary ‘partners’ inspire me to the core with their perpetual commitment in challenge to realise globally accepted form of their fields, much like how I pursue cookery. To be well-received within Japan and on different soils don’t necessarily reflect each other. At the same time, over-pursuing oversea recognitions can result in losing Japanese identity. An ability to manage such balance, and to create a piece that delivers practical and visual joys indiscriminately to anybody who come in contact, calls for certain amount of experiences.
Individuals who restlessly devote their thoughts in the such search for balance naturally pull each other closer, and I’ve had pleasure coming to know 2 great artists since I began cooking in London, and with their help, we designed this event as an introduction to Japanese culture through Kaiseki cuisine; A privileged collaboration with ceramic works of Mr. Kazuya Ishiada, a potter born to a family of Bizen artists and currently a leader of the Japanese team in a joint project between the Oxford University and a group of Bizen artists, and pieces of Edo Kiriko by Mr. Toru Horiguchi, now a symbolic figure to the art of cut glassware from Edo period. Sadly Mr. Horiguchi could not be present on the day of the event, but luckily for us, Ms. Mari Lamb, his representative in London joined us.
Started off with presentations by Mr. Ishida and Ms. Lamb, we served 9-course menu with Sake pairing, utilizing the both artists’ dishware and Sake vessels as well as my own works and antiques form private collection, giving narrative to each course and the pairing piece. Also by incorporating other forms of Japanese culture into the course, such as a woodblock print, calligraphy and Ikebana (flower arrangement) presented in a piece from Mr. Ishida, I was confident we successfully demonstrated Kaiseki cuisine as an cultural congregation in association with many forms of Japanese culture.
The guests who attended, and the two who provided fascinating and intelligible presentation and the pieces, and our own staff; I am filled with gratitude that we all came together and shared this enjoyable moment. 
そんなことを常に考え、追求している人同士は自然と引き合うもので、私がロンドンで料理を始めてから縁あって出会うことが出来、その後も長いお付き合いをさせていただいている2人の作家さんにも今回は参加してもらい、懐石料理を通して日本の文化を紹介するというイベントにしました。備前作家の家系の生まれで、現在はオックスフォード大学と備前焼きの共同プロジェクトを日本側チームリーダーとして活躍する石田和也氏の陶器作品と、江戸切子を今や代表する作家である堀口徹氏とのコラボレーションです。残念ながら堀口氏はスケジュール上当日は参加できませんでしたが、ロンドンで彼の作品を広められているMari Lambさんが代わりに参加してくださいました。

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