• Kyodo News

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With sights set on winning the top prize at an international culinary contest next year, a Japanese association of Western cuisine chefs will recruit young aspiring cooks for professional training by renowned culinary experts.

The All Japan Cooks Association will form a national team comprising five young cooks in mid-October who will be trained for a year by renowned chefs in Japanese, Western and Chinese cuisine. Among the superstar teachers are French cuisine chef Kiyomi Mikuni and Takashi Tamura, an expert in Japanese tea-ceremony dishes.

The team will enter the National Youth Teams division of the International Culinary Olympics, the oldest and one of the most prestigious international culinary competitions. The contest has been held in Germany every four years since 1896.

In the last competition, 2,500 participants from 45 nations competed in group and individual events, and in categories such as delivery service.

Japan has sent participants to the International Culinary Olympics in recent years but has so far refrained from entering chefs in the National Youth Teams division, believing young Japanese cooks have no chance of winning due to a lack of experience.

Chefs from European countries and the U.S. enjoy an overwhelming advantage, the association says, as they have traditionally been instructed from a much younger age and young Japanese chefs lack this training.

However, the association has decided this time that Japanese chefs can win the top prize if they can make up for a lack of experience by successfully highlighting their creativity on the back of growing interest in Japanese cuisine, it said.

The association said four of the five-member team will be selected from those nominated by culinary experts, but the association will invite applications from the public for the remaining spot.

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