The pursuit of Tohoku Heroes!
In 2013, the Japanese restaurant, Kozue of Park Hyatt Tokyo created a special culinary journey called “Tohoku Heroes” to showcase the quality local produce, rice and sake of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefecture in an attempt to help revive the struggling farms in the Tohoku region that were affected by the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, 2011.
Due to its’ success in 2013, “Tohoku Heroes” will return again this year with Chef Ooe presenting delicious local cuisines from the remaining prefectures of Akita in September, Yamagata in October, and Aomori in November.
In order to successfully host this program, Chef de Cuisine Kenichiro Ooe of Kozue, a Tohoku native from Yamagata Prefecture, was given the opportunity to visit each of the six prefectures of Tohoku to meet with the local producers who are upholding the food culture there and witnessed the beautiful mountains and ocean to carefully select the items for his specialty menus that are themed by each prefecture.
Chef Ooe and the Kozue restaurant manager recently visited Akita Prefecture in order to prepare for the upcoming Akita program in September. While they were expecting it to be relatively cool up north in the summertime, they were surprised at how humid and sunny it was there. They met with producers of hinaidori chicken and rare local vegetables and fruits that use very low levels of pesticide, seafood vendors of local specialties from the Sea of Japan, and reputable Japanese sake makers. They were able to ask them many questions about the trial and errors they faced in delivering high quality produce and were able to taste each of their specialty products.
From after being told in what way their specialty products are being distributed around Japan in each prefecture and by the agricultural cooperatives and understanding the mindset of the younger generation of producers, this journey to Akita was a great learning experience for them both.
Please anticipate a thoughtfully laid-out menu by Chef Ooe as he will surely present the “la crème de la crème” of these local products and deliver dishes to the producers he encountered during his Akita journey that are guaranteed to make them proud.
Please see the 2015 “Tohoku Heroes” program dates below:
-Akita Prefecture: 5 September (Sat) ~ 30 September (Wed) 2015
-Yamagata Prefecture: 6 October (Tue) ~ 3 November (Tue) 2015
-Aomori Prefecture: 5 November (Thur) ~ 30 November (Mon) 2015
Bringing the last leg of this long-awaited journey of delicious feasts across Tohoku, the “heroes” from Akita, Yamagata, and Aomori will gather for a special finale dinner on Sunday 29 November.