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Foreign chefs OK to work in ‘ryotei’

Kyodo

Officials in the city of Kyoto said the state has approved a special measure that will permit foreign chefs to work at restaurants and other establishments serving traditional, high-end Japanese cuisine.

Foreigners were previously not permitted to work in “ryotei” and similar restaurants. They could train there without pay under the “cultural activity” resident status, but paid positions were limited to foreign residents with Japanese spouses, the Justice Ministry and the Kyoto Municipal Government said Friday.

After the central government designated Kyoto a special zone for regional economic revival in 2011, the city requested that employment eligibility requirements be eased regarding foreign chefs. The government approved the special measure, which is limited to Kyoto, on Friday.

The city will now decide which restaurants will be able to hire foreign chefs, who will be paid wages equal to or greater than those of their Japanese counterparts.

Under the new measure, those establishments will be allowed to hire up to two foreign chefs for a maximum of two years. Candidates must have a certain level of skills, must be affiliated with a restaurant overseas and must be willing to prepare Japanese cuisine when they return to their home countries.

Details such as the total number of chefs to be accepted and the types of training programs will be determined by the city and the Japanese Culinary Academy, a nonprofit group organized by Kyoto-based chefs. The hiring is scheduled to start sometime before the end of the current fiscal year next March.