Chef Akama Strives to Go Abroad to Spread
Chef Hirohito Akama has devoted himself to promote Japanese
cuisine to overseas and visited Chicago last October. While he works as
a head chef in Akura restaurant in Osakaya Hiinano Yu in Wakayama Prefecture,
he often goes abroad to give lectures, demonstrations, and make collaborations
with local chefs to cook Japanese fusion dishes.
Last June, chef Akama collaborated with Italian chef Domenico Ottaviano at Trabucco Da Mimi in Peschici, Puglia, Italy. The restaurant is located next to a fishery Trabucco, and its owner family has kept their affection to the local food traditions, according to Akama.
Akama and Ottaviano served a special course of menu for a week. The Japanese-Italian fusion course was Nigiri Sushi Dello Chef Akama, Trabucco Okonomiyaki, Tempura Dashi Troccoli, Unadon Di Pane E Mosto Di Fichi, Zuppa Di Pesce Al Miso Rosso, and Panna Cotta Al Matcha Tea.
Akama remembered that the customers loved to see “katsuo
bushi” (tuna flakes), which appeared to dance when he put the flakes on
the top of okonomiyaki.
After he finished the food event, he visited Torino culinary association to give lectures and demonstrations on Japanese-Italian fusion cooking, and received a medal from the association.
He also collaborated with Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi and served bento boxes and ramen noodles.
Those activities brought him an opportunity to write
a book about Japanese cuisine, and it will be translated in Italian language
and published in Italy.
Akama visited Salone del Gusto in Italy, Taiwan, and Indonesia last year and said, “My purpose to visit those countries was to introduce Japanese cuisine to ordinary people because it wouldn’t spread widely if you serve it only in expensive restaurants. I always exchange with local chefs with the purpose in my mind.”
An Event that Brought Akama Overseas
In 2014, Akama was asked to come with a team of local
food makers, who were going to participate in Slow Food Festival in Torino.
Local food makers in Wakayama decided to participate in the festival to introduce their own products such as cheese, sake, vinegar, and soy sauce although they were not members of Slow Food association. However, their products were not familiar with European people, so they needed to show how their products were used with local food.
Akama went the festival with them for a week. He woke
up every morning at 5 a.m. and went to markets to buy ingredients. He
improvised menus such as Piemonte beef sushi, pistachio tempura, and blue
mussel miso soup and served them to visitors until 11 p.m.
Akama answered a question if he had difficulties to
collaborate with a chef, who had different taste favorites and cultural
Akama also said, “Now washoku, Japanese cuisine, is a kind of trend in overseas, and I don’t want it to end just as a trend. I think that more Japanese chefs should go abroad to demonstrate Japanese cooking so that it becomes a part of local cooking in the world.” He is going to visit France, Taiwan, China, the U.S., and Italy next year.
Chef Hiroto Akama
He was born in Shimane Prefecture. His grandfather ran
two Japanese restaurants, and his father integrated them as one. When
he was a child, he asked his father if he had to become a chef, his father
replied, “You don’t have to do such a hard job.” Since then, he had worked
hard at playing baseball until he graduated from high school.
Akama: There is no problem because I trained my sous
chef and his subordinates. If you want to groom young chefs, let them
think about the best way to work, so that they feel their responsibilities.
If I’m always with them, they would rely on me. They can do all their
jobs without me.
Hirohito Akama and Domenico Ottaviano work together to serve
Japanese/Italian cuisine at Trabucco Da Mimi in Peschici, Puglia, Italy
Nigiri Sushi Dello Chef Akama
Unadon Di Pane E Mosto Di Fichi
Hirohito Akama and Domenico Ottaviano make a toast at
Trabucco Da Mimi in Peschici, Puglia, Italy