Thursday, August 19, 2010

Washoku Update & Insider Interviews From Students

Chef Noriyuki Kobayashi teaches students the finer points of making sushi. Photo by Sara & Christina

The high school students participating in Washoku 101 are coming to the end of their two-week course in cooking Japanese-style. Some of the activities they’ve enjoyed are: learning how to make tsukemono (pickles), onigiri (rice balls), Japanese sweets, as well as visiting a Tofu factory, and participating in a tea ceremony.

You can keep up-to-date on their activities by checking out the students' blog. There are tons of great pictures, as well as interviews with the instructors, some of whom are well-known in their respective fields as masters of various Japanese culinary techniques.

In students Perdro and Tanner’s interview with Tofu manufacturer Yoko Difranica at House Foods, Ms. Difranica says that Tofu’s still a hard sell in the U.S.: “Tofu is an acquired taste and few people in the U.S. grow up with tofu. Another challenge is educating customers about tofu and not scaring them off by making them think that House Foods is trying push a healthy product and one with no taste.”

Some Japanese food has had a wider and warmer reception than tofu, though. The sushi chef at Megu Noriyuki Kobayashi experiences high demand for his specialty, he told students Sara and Christina. Maybe it’s because he’s trained with another master: “I didn’t really have the money for culinary school,” he said. “Actually, people didn’t use to go to culinary school, but would learn under a really good chef at real restaurants.”

All the classes, lectures, and demonstrations culminate in a private reception held at the Astor Center. Mr. Kobayashi will lead students in a demonstration of making and rolling sushi. Guests will be invited to join in and partake in the hand-made sushi feast. Additional demonstrations will also be held, as well as a meal at the end, of catered and student-made goodies.


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