Meet the Chefs: Yoshimi, Japan

I can't wait for you to meet Yoshimi. Yoshimi comes to us just outside Tokyo, Japan. She's been cooking her whole life - as early as a young girl hardly tall enough to reach the kitchen counter, and has never stopped.

After an impressive career in international business, she decided to follow her passion for Japanese food. She made the jump and opened her cooking school, TOKYO KITCHEN, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Her love of Japanese tradition alongside her knack for teaching has helped thousands of guests from around the world make delicious dishes like Miso Soup, Mosaic Rolls, Rice Bowls (known as donburi in Japan), and lots more. You can read her excellent five-star reviews on Trip Advisor. Now, she's excited to come into your home with private, real-time cooking classes to teach you Japanese culture, and help you master recipes from her country.

When I asked, she said her favourite course is Dumplings - although having taken each of her classes, I'll say you'll love all of them. As a matter of fact, I can't pick a favourite. Each class introduced new flavours in my home-cooking, and helped me learn the balance of the five tastes of Japanese food: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami. Chef Yoshimi teaches more about this during her classes.

Of all classes, I'll say the Okonomiyaki class was the biggest surprise - I've never had such a dish before.

Perhaps you've never heard of Okonomiyaki, so let me tell you more. Imagine a Japanese pizza - some say Japanese savoury pancake - but neither sound sexy enough after you taste it. There are a few variations of Okonomiyaki throughout Japan. In the version Yoshimi teaches, several ingredients are mixed together to make a dough. The dough is then fried with a special sauce and toppings native to the region (all are easily found at any Asian grocery store). It's savoury, crunchy, chewy, sweet, comforting, oh... it's so good. It's become a new favourite in my home kitchen, so I'll rate this as a 'must-take' course.

In Japan, it's common to find 'do-it-yourself' Okonomiyaki restaurants, where they bring ingredients to your table and you make your own. They say the dish has ancient ties to a crepe like dish, but gained popularity in its current form during WWII when rice was in shortage in Japan.

As with most cultures, food is an important part of the Japanese day. There are many traditions around eating, and local specialties that Chef Yoshimi talks about during her classes. Rice, for example - is a critical part of each meal and even the placement of that rice during your dinner has purpose. And, well... Yoshimi can tell you the rest.

Half the fun of The Chef & The Dish experiences is to learn new skills and connect to new cultures. Most of us can't jet-set every day. Our private, online cooking classes are a way for you to get 1:1 attention from a world-class global chef and cooking instructor to have an authentic taste of what a vacation in that region would include.

I learned quite a few things in Okonomiyaki, including flipping my not-so-perfect-but-I'm-darn-proud-of-it dough that you can see here. It's supposed to look like the picture above (that is Chef Yoshimi's version). Hey, if I was perfect at the first go, I wouldn't need to take classes, right?

When you take your first course, we want to see how your dishes turn out, so make sure to email us or post them to our social channels.

For the Love of "Japanese Pizza",

Jenn Nicken


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