I first met Takehiro Wada at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January 2016. Wadaman's sesame booth was next to our local soy sauce and miso company whom I was there to support.

In between cooking demos and chatting up potential buyers, I strolled over to the Wadaman booth to taste some of its oils. While the gold and black sesame oils were lovely, the white sesame oil spoke to me immediately: elegant, bright, clear. This was like no other sesame oil I had ever experienced and I was captivated.

Hundreds of thousands of people come through the Fancy Food Show so my pestering questions to Wada were probably annoying. Who was this blond woman asking about the source of his sesame? His gently spoken JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) handler also tended to step in when I approached, so I felt a bit of frustration at the inability to connect with him directly over those few days.