Chinen wins fifth crown in Japanese Culinary Competition

Chinen wins fifth crown in Japanese Culinary Competition

Tsukasa Chinen expresses his joy in receiving an award for his izakaya-style restaurant “Yuuzuki” in Uchima, Urasoe on March 11.

March 15, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 9, the Association for the Advancement of the Japanese Culinary Art hosted its 29th Japanese Culinary Competition in Tokyo. In the Regional Cuisine Division, 39-year-old Tsukasa Chinen received the top honor with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award. Among other restaurants, Chinen manages Yuuzuki, an izakaya serving traditional multi-course meals in Urasoe, Okinawa. Minister Awards from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Transport, Tourism and International Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology are all respectively top awards in the Regional Cuisine Division. Chinen has made an unprecedented achievement by collecting all five crowns, with his most recent award.

The competition is split into three divisions. A total of 132 people participated this year, with 40 participants in the Regional Cuisine Division, 64 in the Modern Japanese Cuisine Division, and 28 in the Traditional Japanese Cuisine Division. This year was Chinen’s eighth year participating in the competition.

Upon graduating middle school in Okinawa, Chinen moved to Osaka to learn how to prepare Kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese meal. Chinen was running his own restaurant in Okinawa by the age of 26. Chinen reflects, “Back then, not many Japanese people were interested in traditional Okinawan cuisine. I wanted to show what makes our local foods, ingredients, and traditional cuisine so special. That’s why I tried adding in Okinawan essences in Kaiseki, creating a traditional Japanese-Okinawan Kaiseki fusion.”

For this competition, Chinen used goya (bitter gourds) in all of his dishes. “I took a risk, but I really wanted to be particular about using a food which would represent Okinawa.” In regards to his most recent award, Chinen said, “This beats every award I’ve received so far.”

(Translation by T&CT, Kaya Doi)

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