Chef wins cookoff with Venetian fare

Kyodo

A Japanese chef who presented appetizer and pasta dishes using ingredients imported from Venice took first prize in an Italian cooking competition Wednesday in Tokyo.

Daisuke Yamazaki, a 35-year-old chef at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, beat his nine rivals to be awarded a free round-trip air ticket to southern Italy, where he will receive one-day training at a local restaurant and cookware and pasta sets.

In the competition organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce to discover new talents for Italian culinary circles in Japan and to promote Italy’s regional cooking, Yamazaki won acclaim for serving dishes that present traditional Italian tastes.

His appetizer featured a croquette made of dried cod imported from Italy, while his pasta was topped with spicy salami unique to the Venetian district. “I joined the contest to test my cooking ability. I’m so glad to get the first prize,” said Yamazaki, who spent three months in Venice studying cooking.

“He preserved the taste of traditional Italian food,” said Mario Frittoli, one of the judges and a chef at an Italian eatery in Tokyo. Tsutomu Ochiai, another judge and chief of the Italian food chef association in Japan, said Yamazaki’s dishes would “bring comfort” to Italians.