Top chefs to the rescue with Soul of Tohoku

Top chefs to the rescue with Soul of Tohoku

Japan's culinary community rallies to support fishing and farming in the devastated northeast
Soul of Japan
The Soul of Tohoku project puts the focus clearly on reviving the northeast of Japan.

A group of Japan’s top chefs is calling on cooks around the country to support Tohoku by doing what they do best -- cooking.

Called the Soul of Tohoku, the initiative was started by a team of 40 chefs who represented Japan at the prestigious Worlds of Flavor conference in the United States last October.

The majority of the chefs will join forces once again on Tuesday, May 31, to prepare a grand spread for their fundraising benefit dinner at the ANA InterContinental Hotel.

All the proceeds will go toward the group’s Kitchen Caravan Cooking Relay project, which will send chefs in kitchen-equipped vehicles to various locations in Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate prefectures.

Business boost

They plan to hold a series of cooking events and educational programs aimed at children to promote local foods, while collaborating with restaurants in the area to give local business a much-needed boost.

But, the project’s primary objective is to revitalize Tohoku’s hard-hit agriculture and fishing industries, which continue to suffer as a result of radiation contamination fears.

By working with farmers and fishermen to prove the safety of their products, the group hopes to allay concerns over safety.

Lingering damage

“Even once life has returned to normal, I am afraid that damage to the area’s reputation will linger,” says chef Yoshihiro Murata, of the Michelin-starred restaurant Kikunoi in Kyoto. “This is why I believe we must save our primary producers.”

The Soul of Tohoku Symposium will take place at the ANA InterContinental Hotel from 2 p.m. -- 5:30 p.m. (¥1,000), followed by a buffet dinner (¥20,000, includes both symposium and dinner) from 6 p.m. -- 9 p.m. To reserve a place or make a donation, contact, or visit the group’s website.

Hi, I'm Melinda Joe. Originally from Louisiana, I'd only planned to stay in Japan for a year when I fell in love with Japanese food and sake. The rest, as they say, is history.
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