Pontus Johansson, a Swedish sushi chef, took second place with his “Northern Light” reindeer sushi.
EAT-JAPAN Sushi Awards
London — October
Some of the world’s great sushi chefs gather to make unique sushi creations
CAPSULE REPORT: Each October, seven of the world’s greatest sushi chefs assemble in London to present their greatest creations to a panel of British culinary celebrities—and more than 300 sushi connoisseurs. The £90 tickets are sold out, and there’s a waiting list. The buffet dinner counts among the most innovative evenings of sushi most of us are likely to have. This is Page 1 of a two-page article. Click on the black links below to visit Page 2.
Award-winning chefs from Japan, Russia, Scandinavia, the U.K. and the U.S. competed on October 6th at Sushi Awards 2008 for the Sushi of the Year Award, a unique creation developed for the event. These “Seven Sushi Samurai” created their selected sushi at Bloomsbury’s London House. Each chef has a table; guests walk from table to table to taste the creations. The chefs are judged on, among other criteria, creativity, flair and skill.
The 2008 winner was Mitsunori “Nori” Kusakabe of Sushi Ran in Sausalito, California, a restaurant that has earned a Michelin star and is consistently in the top 10 Bay Area restaurants as rated by Zagat’s readers. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Nori received classic, traditional training and undertook apprenticeships in Kyoto, Japan, working his way up through the ranks and rising to master sushi chef. He eventually made his way to the U.S., where he honed his skills at some of the finest Japanese restaurants, eventually becoming Executive Chef at Nobu, Miami. Nori has been master sushi chef at Sushi Ran for the past five years. He also won the sixth American Sushi Skills competition.
Kusakabe’s creation, “Seven ‘Rice’ Samurai,” used only rice (no fish or vegetables, except for the nori wrapper and garnishes such as shiso flowers), and demonstrated his skills as a chef; judge Kyle Connaughton, head chef of The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, called it “technically brilliant.” (The Fat Duck restaurant is England’s temple of experimental haute cuisine.)
Kusakabe used seven different cooking methods—fermentation, frying, toasting, sautéing, roasting, freezing and extraction—to transform rice into an innovative sushi. The inspiration behind this recipe was Kusakabe’s desire to show the world just how delicious and essential rice is, and how versatile rice can be.
The winner: a sushi made of seven different treatments of rice. Last year’s winner, Golden Shooting Star, was also a vegetarian sushi.
The prize was largely the honor of winning: Mr. Kusakabe received the Sushi of the Year Award trophy and a year’s supply of Kikkoman Soy Sauce.
You can only imagine how good this sushi tastes, but the next time you’re in the neighborhood of Sausalito (right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco), see if you can get a reservation at Sushi Ran (SushiRan.com).
To learn more about the different types of sushi available at most sushi bars, read THE NIBBLE’s Sushi Glossary. And if you’re headed to any of the cities in which the rest of the Seven Samurai sushi chefs work, you can be assured you’ll find some exciting sushi there.
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