The 2020 edition of Washoku World Challenge, the world-leading Japanese cuisine contest organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, is now being held online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Washoku means Japanese cuisine, and this prestigious annual competition celebrates the creativity and innovation of Washoku chefs of non-Japanese nationality all around the globe.
First launched in 2013, Washoku World Challenge usually features regional qualifying tournaments held all over the world ahead of the finals in Tokyo.
By holding the contest online, a broader range of people who are interested in Japanese cuisine – not only Washoku chefs – have been able to participate in this globe-spanning contest. 2020’s theme, “My Japanese Cuisine”, offered a further invitation to people from different countries and cultures to express their knowledge, technique and passion for Japanese cuisine.
In total, a record-breaking 199 people from 41 different countries and regions applied for Washoku World Challenge 2020, and out of them, the challengers completed the following three assignments for the paper screening round: the creation of two original dishes on the theme, “My Japanese Cuisine”, with accompanying recipes and photos; a short essay explaining how the essential elements of Washoku have been assimilated into these culinary creations; and a short essay outlining the applicant’s vision and approach to Japanese cuisine. In return, each applicant will soon receive a specially-created series of films featuring leading Washoku experts to support their onward learning and discovery of Japanese cuisine.
The Head Judge of Washoku World Challenge is Mr. Yoshihiro MURATA (Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador*, third-generation Owner-Chef of the three-Michelin-starred “Kikunoi” restaurant – awarded consecutively from 2009 to 2021 – and Chairman of the Japanese Culinary Academy), and the Deputy Head Judge is Mr. Masahiro NAKATA (Director of Taiwa Gakuen Education Incorporated and President of Kyoto Culinary Art College).
Today (Thursday 22 October 2020) the 15 shortlisted contestants are announced. Listed below in alphabetical order, they are:
|Restaurant/Culinary Institution & country/region:
|Two original dishes created on the theme “My Japanese Cuisine”:
|Ms. Naumi CARVAJAL UEMURA
|Simmered konnyaku with vegetables
Beef sinew and konnyaku stew
|Mr. Wa DUAN
|SUN with AQUA JAPANESE DINING, China
|Appetiser “Shanghainese garden”
Sawaniwan “Moon and Soft-shelled turtle”
|Mr. Asith Amila FERNANDO
|Maki Restaurant. Maki International Restaurant Co., Kuwait
|Gyunikujiru (soup with beef and vegetables)
Grilled Gindara (sablefish) with Miso honey
|Mr. Man Fong HO
|EDO JAPANESE RESTAURANT, Macau
|Nimonowan – Shrimp dumpling and vegetables
Grilled barracuda Yuan-yaki
|Mr. Alex KIM
|Takibi (Snow Peak, Inc.), USA
|Autumn Eve Hassun
Smoked Nijimasu shiro miso Yuan-yaki with creme fraiche
|Mr. Hendy LIU
|Australian Venue Co.
|Daikon with mud crab, cod roe and lemon myrtle
Kombu poached murray cod with stuffed prawn meat in potato cylinders, Miso-Sake kasu sauce with watermelon radish
|Mr. Chao LU
|SUN with AQUA JAPANESE DINING,
|Appetiser with five cooking methods
Nimonowan – Kuzu dumpling and Jinhua ham
|Mr. Leigang LU
|Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai, China
|Seasonal assorted appetisers
Autumn conger eel, Matsutake mushroom
and Japanese dashi broth steamed in a teapot
|Mr. Sean David MELL
|Katsumoto, Hong Kong
|Roasted Chilean sea bass with black garlic Miso
Elote corn tempura
|Ms. Suchanun NAMWONGSAMRAN
|Student at Chitralada institute, Thailand
|Steamed chicken Tsukune with yakitori and natto sauce
Cured yuzu salmon
|Mr. Piotr Wiktor PERZYŃSKI
|Hassun – 8 seasonal appetisers
Nimonowan – Red sea bream with watermelon radish and pickled benitade
|Mr. Basanta Bantawa RAI
|Katsuya by Starck, U.A.E.
|Pan seared sea bass with Miso butter sauce
Ceviche (Japanese fusion)
|Mr. Percival Adrian SHEDDEN
Maki International Restaurant Co., Kuwait
|Shiso Ebi (shrimp) Tempura
Unagi (eel) Chirashi
|Mr. Chih-Fan TSAI
|Shinyeh Japanese buffet, Taiwan
|Grilled tilefish with roasted walnuts
“An Autumn breeze”
Dumpling with chicken, chestnut,
taro and shiitake mushroom topped
with crab meat and Chrysanthemum petals
|Mr. Luis Fernando YSCAVA
|HIDDEN by 2nd Floor, Brazil
|Onsen tamago (soft boiled egg) and asparagus
Pork belly and sweetcorn
For further information and photos of the shortlist and their creations, please click here.
Deputy Head Judge, Mr. Masahiro NAKATA, said: “This year, the Washoku World Challenge is being held online for the first time. We’ve received many applications from all over the world including from countries and regions that wouldn’t have been able to participate in the regional qualifying tournaments if it hadn’t been online. Thank you all very much for your participation. Although it was our first attempt, we were able to see a variety of unique dishes prepared by those who are interested in Japanese cuisine, and we’ve realised again the high level of interest in Japanese cuisine around the world. I hope you’ll continue to improve your knowledge and skills and keep on challenging. Amongst all of the applications, there were many truly wonderful Japanese dishes that incorporated the essence of Japanese cuisine, as well as those that highlighted the seasonality.”
Judge, Mr. Takuji TAKAHASHI, said: “Having examined all the applications, I have the impression that Japanese cuisine is widely and deeply pursued across the world. We’ve recognised many new things by seeing all of your original and creative dishes. We hope that your participation in this contest has been a good opportunity to bring richness to your cuisine. And, please keep enjoying cooking.”
Judge, Mr. Hideaki MATSUO, said: “I do very much appreciate your participation. After seeing all of the applications, I’m pleased to know that many of you are not just pursuing the deliciousness of Japanese cuisine, but you are also respecting the seasonality and coloration. At the judging, I gave high scores to the dishes which incorporate Japanese food culture into the applicant’s own cuisines. These could be the seeds to spread Japanese food further around the world.”
The 15 shortlisted contestants will all receive a bespoke kit with a wealth of Washoku resources and now progress to the final tournament where they will complete two further assignments.
The first asks each contestant to film the creation of a dish that demonstrates their flair and expertise in at least one of the five primary cooking methods of Japanese cuisine. These are “nama” (cutting), “niru” (simmering), “yaku” (grilling), “musu” (steaming) and “ageru” (deep-frying).
The second assignment requires each contestant to deliver a filmed interview explaining the dish in more detail, in dialogue with their vision and approach to Washoku.
The shortlist now has just over a month to complete their submissions and on Monday 21 December 2020, the six Washoku World Challenge finalists will be announced on the dedicated Washoku World Challenge website and on the contest’s social media channels.
In a further twist befitting of 2020, there won’t just be one winner in this contest, instead all six finalists will enjoy a one-on-one online masterclass with a top Japanese Chef!
Notes to Editors’
Press contact: Jennifer Reynolds PR / firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 7736 84 22 37
The Judges for the paper screening round of Washoku World Challenge 2020 are:
Head Judge, Mr. Yoshihiro MURATA
Owner & Chef of “Kikunoi”, Chairman of the Japanese Culinary Academy and Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador*.
Deputy Head Judge, Mr. Masahiro NAKATA
Director of Taiwa Gakuen Education Incorporated and President of Kyoto Culinary Art College.
Judge, Mr. Takuji TAKAHASHI
CEO of the Kinobu restaurant in Kyoto and Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador*.
Judge, Mr. Hideaki MATSUO
Owner and Chef of Japanese Cuisine Kashiwaya in Osaka and Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador*.
* In order to further spread the pleasure and passion for Japanese food and dietary culture, both at home and abroad, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is appointing Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassadors.