Two Seattle chefs went head-to-head in the recent inaugural “Itadakimau Day” celebration held at The Kitchen by Delicatus in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. A global celebration held in select cities around the world, Itadakimasu Day was established as a joint effort between the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and Nikkei Business Publications as a way of recognizing chefs outside of Japan who seek to perfect and perpetuate traditional Japanese culinary arts. This particular Seattle event was sold out as Japanese cuisine enthusiasts packed the house to see who would reign supreme in this chef showdown.
Chefs Shota Nakajima of Kappo Kitchen and Aaron Pate of Shiro’s Sushi put their best Japanese cuisine skills on display as they battled for a spot to represent the Pacific Northwest at the Washoku World Challenge 2015 to be held in Kyoto, Japan. The event was held on December 11th in an “Iron Chef” style cookout. Each chef had 30 minutes to prepare one dish that would be judged by a committee of five local judges on presentation, originality, taste, and cultural ties to Japanese cuisine. The dish that Pate prepared was a visual delight–tonyu shabu shabu featuring crab claws, marinated black cod, and raw oyster–while Nakajima took the opposite approach, opting for a minimalist dish that he said was meant to resemble Japan’s first snowfall. After a very long discussion between the event’s five judges, Chef Nakajima was proclaimed the winner.
I had the honor of not only attending this event, but also working the night as the official photographer, a feat that involved lots of running back and forth between the kitchen and judging tables as I attempted to visually capture each element of the night’s events. It was quite the night, despite incredibly challenging lighting, the result was not only in camaraderie and learning cultural differences, but also celebrating the unique flavors of Japanese cuisine and how it is being interpreted by modern chefs today.