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PHOTOS: Chef from Japan demonstrates culinary knife skills at VIU’s Nanaimo campus

Chef Motoi Kurisu of Kyoto on hand for launch of VIU culinary certification program
Chef Motoi Kurisu, of Kyoto, Japan, jokes with VIU culinary arts students as he demonstrates how to shave a daikon radish into a parchment-thin strip. Kurisu said the cut was inspired by the texture and reflected light from the surface of the water in a fast-running section of the Katsura River in Kyoto. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin

Japanese cuisine was on the menu for culinary arts students at Vancouver Island University this week.

Motoi Kurisu, executive chef to Arashiyama Kumahiko and president of Kumahiko Co. Ltd. of Kyoto, Japan, was the special guest at VIU’s culinary arts lab Thursday, Nov. 3, when he gave students a demonstration of traditional Japanese cooking skills.

The demonstration, performed with VIU culinary arts instructor Avi Sternberg acting as interpreter, was made to celebrate the launch of VIU’s Japanese cooking skills certification program, which will become part of the university’s Red Seal culinary programs.

“Japanese culinary knife skills are considered the best in the world and this certification will provide students with the opportunity to gain knife skills that will aid them in their careers,” said Sternberg, who worked in Japan for eight years, said in a press release.

The accreditation process started after Sternberg saw an ad online from TOW Co. Ltd. – the management body contracted by Japan’s ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to oversee the certification program – seeking cooks who had, or are currently, working with Japanese cuisine and are interested in earning official certification.

VIU is one of 12 institutions worldwide to offer the certification. L.A.’s Sushi Chef Institute is the only other institute offering the certification in North America.

In an interview Thursday, Kurisu, who has taught his culinary skills in Spain, France, the U.S., Korea and China, said he is excited to have students in Canada, not just see and taste the food, but also to understand the Japanese culture behind it.

“In Japanese culture there’s a very important relationship between the senior chef and the junior chef … the opportunity to come overseas and [provide information to] the VIU students and around the world is so exciting,” Kurisu said, speaking through an interpreter.

The certification training will be offered at VIU’s Nanaimo and Tiwsemawtxw (Powell River) campuses.

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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