Chris Jue/CIA

Students from The Culinary Institute of America learn the art of sushi making from a "sushi shokunin" master sushi chef during their fall 2017 tour of Japan.

The Culinary Institute of America Takes Students on a Trip to Japan

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), in collaboration with Suntory Group, one of the world's leading consumer product companies, launched the second year of its Advanced Cooking: Japanese Cuisine course at the college's New York campus. As Japan's rich culinary traditions, techniques, and dishes increasingly become focal points of exploration for young chefs pursuing advanced culinary arts, the course serves as the first phase of a broader Japanese studies initiative at the CIA.

This year, students enrolled in the course had the opportunity to travel to Japan to experience Japanese cuisine first-hand, just before the start of the semester. The 10-day culinary tour was an enlightening experience for the students and set the tone for what they are learning back on campus. The tour was made possible by Suntory and other corporate members of the CIA's Japanese Studies Leadership Council.

Students and CIA faculty traveled to Tokyo, Fukuoka, Kyoto, and Osaka, experiencing cuisines and culinary demonstrations ranging from soba and sushi to kamameshi, okonomiyaki, kaiseki, and much more. The itinerary included visits to rice fields grown for vinegar production, wagyu beef and bamboo shoot farms, the Tsuji Culinary Institute, and the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery. The tour was planned by the CIA with the help of the college's ambassador in Japan, Mr. Hiroo Chikaraishi, a well-known hospitality expert based in Tokyo.

The Japanese Cuisine course is an innovative immersion into the cuisines, flavors, techniques, and food culture of Japan. It is jointly taught by CIA instructor Chef Martin Matysik and Chef Hiroki Murashima of the world-renowned Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka. As part of the CIA's relationship with Suntory, Chef Murashima also holds the position of Suntory Visiting Professor of Japanese Studies.

The elective, open to juniors and seniors pursuing a CIA bachelor's degree, started in September, and is filled to capacity. The course will include a day-long field trip to New York City to experience leading Japanese restaurants and retail operations.

"The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine is clear and evident. Sushi and ramen are easy to find at supermarkets and neighborhood restaurants across the country. Top American chefs are increasingly looking to Japan for deep insights on flavor, technique and design," says CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan. "We are delighted to collaborate with Suntory in making this world heritage of food culture more accessible to the talented chefs of tomorrow."

The curriculum guides students through Japanese history, culture, and principles of authentic Japanese cooking as they explore rice and noodles, sushi, tempura, the principles of umami, and the cultural aspects of the Japanese dining table. Students will also learn the art of preparing kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal that is highly seasonal, balanced, and evocative of Japanese sensibilities of beauty and hospitality.

"As a company deeply rooted in Japanese culture for more than a century, we are thrilled to give CIA students the opportunity to better understand the practices and techniques of Japanese cuisine and culture," says Suntory president and CEO Takeshi Niinami. "It is our privilege to support the chefs of tomorrow, and we look forward to another successful year of this partnership as we continue to cultivate the art of Japanese cuisine in the U.S."

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