JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah recently hosted a lecture at its library on nutrition education, as part of its efforts to promote Japanese culinary traditions and cultural exchange with the Saudi community.
Chef Sato Taki, a renowned Japanese Food Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East since 2019, shared his three decades of culinary knowledge.
During the lecture, the chef focused on “shokuiku,” the Japanese term for nutrition education, and highlighted growing concerns about children’s health, including imbalanced nutrition, irregular eating patterns such as skipping breakfast, and issues related to obesity and weight loss.
Shokuiku nurtures children’s understanding of food, promotes informed dietary choices, and instills healthy eating habits through diverse experiences.
In an interview with Arab News, Sato highlighted the need for a change in Saudi food culture to combat rising diabetes rates. He emphasized the importance of promoting healthier eating habits and suggested that Japan’s culinary traditions could assist in adopting better and more flavorful dietary choices.
He also discussed umami, one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami is a savory or meaty taste that enhances the flavor of food and is a significant aspect of Japanese cuisine.
Japanese cuisine is famous for its rich umami flavors achieved through ingredients such as kombu, bonito flakes, soy sauce, miso, seaweed and aged ingredients, as well as grilling and broiling techniques.
When discussing his culinary philosophy, Sato said that food serves as a means of connecting people, acting as a tool for communication and interaction. He sees food as a two-way channel, emphasizing its significance in his approach to cooking.
The chef began his culinary journey in Saudi Arabia in 2016. His work goes beyond simply introducing Japanese cuisine; instead, he focuses on exploring and creating flavors that cater to the preferences of Saudi diners.
His unwavering dedication lies in incorporating Saudi tastes into traditional Japanese dishes as much as possible. His efforts in crafting a distinctive fusion cuisine have played a pivotal role in sparking the interest of many Saudis in Japanese food and, more broadly, Japanese culture.
Izuru Shimmura, consul general of Japan in Jeddah, expressed his gratitude to the chef and the audience for coming together. He also extended his congratulations to the Saudi leadership and people on the occasion of the 93rd Saudi National Day.
“Chef Sato Taki has been very active in promoting Japanese food culture in the Kingdom. I hope this will be a very good opportunity to deepen and widen knowledge and understanding of the Japanese food culture,” Shimmura said.
At a packed venue, the diverse audience shared a common passion for exploring different cultures.
Nawal Al-Khair, a Syrian resident and polyglot cultural enthusiast, expressed her eagerness to explore Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language.
“I was eager to delve deeper into Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language. I yearned for more,” she said. “When I heard that the chef was hosting this seminar, I saw it as an opportunity, and I’m thrilled that I took it.”