HONOLULU (October 10, 2014) – “Celebrating Connections: A U.S.-Japan Culinary Festival,” an innovative culinary event organized by the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), welcomed twelve premier chefs from Hawaii and Japan to work with one another. As part of USJC’s culinary diplomacy initiative, which aims to promote cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through sharing meals, the event encouraged cultural exchange through the collaborative creation of a dish.
Each chef created their own dish and advised the other chef on adjustments or alterations. With Hawaii chefs advising the Japanese chefs and vice versa, each individual created the best dish that to be enjoyed by both Japanese and American people. Local ingredients, including Mahimahi, Opihi, Hawaiian Wild Boar, Guava, Macadamia Nut Honey and Taro, were used. Chefs were paired as follows:
- Chef Alan Wong (Alan Wong’s Restaurants – Hawaii) & Chef Toshiya Konno (Ukai – Japan)
- Chef Chris Kajioka (Restaurant CK – Hawaii) & Chef Yasuhiro Sasajima (Il Ghiottone – Japan)
- Sun Noodle (U.S.) & Chef Kenji Chiba (Chibakiya – Japan)
- Chef Alan Takasaki (Le Bistro – Hawaii) & Chef Toru Totoki (Ginza Totoki – Japan)
- Chef Vikram Garg (Halekulani – Hawaii) & Chef Keigo Tamura (Kyoryori Manshige – Japan)
Chef Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Restaurants Worldwide) and Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka (MW Restaurant – Hawaii) also made their own dishes.
This festival was part of the 2014 USJC Annual Conference, “U.S.-Japan Connections: Contributing to Growth, Security and Sustainability,” which brought together regional, national and international leaders from government, business, academia and non-profit sectors to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship through international collaboration. The Conference highlighted Hawaii’s historical, cultural and strategic significance in the Asia Pacific, as well as the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance and cross-cultural partnerships. It featured as speakers (the asterisk (*) denotes Keynote Speakers):
- *Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, United States Pacific Fleet
- *Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President & CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation
*Masami Iijima, President & CEO, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
- George Ariyoshi, Former Governor, State of Hawaii
- George Takei, Actor, Hosato Enterprises, Inc.
The many dimensions of the U.S.-Japan relationship were reflected in the Annual Conference’s twelve breakout sessions. These included: Serving Up Culinary Diplomacy through Collaboration, Economic Development Through Tourism and Events, and Capitalizing on Business Opportunities Abroad.
This was the first time USJC held its Annual Conference in Hawaii. USJC has strong ties to the Aloha state, including the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, one of the co-founders of the U.S.-Japan Council, and many other Japanese American leaders. From an educational neighbor island tour, to the opening reception that featured a musical performance by former sumo wrestler KONISHIKI, the Conference celebrated Hawaii’s unique setting along with the many aspects of U.S.-Japan relations.
The U.S.-Japan Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization that contributes to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations by bringing together diverse leadership, engaging stakeholders and exploring issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific. By promoting people-to-people relationships, the Japanese American-led organization cultivates an international network, and collaborates with other organizations and institutions to develop programs that allow leaders to engage with their counterparts in the United States and Japan.