JOURNAL / JAPAN etc.(English)

Contemplating simple fare at an ancient setting in spring

Chefs share the spirit of Alice Waters’ “Simple food”


From left: Yuri Nomura of eatrip, Jerome Waag of Chez Panisse and Shinobu Namae of L'Effervescence

Alice Waters is a gastronomic specialist who has advocated local production for local consumption, sustainable agriculture and distribution, as well as dietary education for more than forty years. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse, became a mecca for the “simple food” approach based on organic ingredients, creating a long-lasting impact on chefs around the world.
In April 2014, Chez Panisse head chef Jerome Waag journeyed to Japan, where he, Yuri Nomura, head of food creation team and restaurant eatrip, and Shinobu Namae, chef of L'Effervescence, gathered at the historic town of Kamakura for a special collaboration of these three chefs who paid their dues at Chez Panisse and are helping to spread the message of Alice Waters.

A midday feast at Tokeiji temple in spring

The stage was set for a memorable collaboration at Kitakamakura at the height of springtime, with the midday feast being held at the study of venerable temple Tokeiji. Shonan, including Kamakura, is an area blessed with fresh vegetables and seafood. Both the temple master of Tokeiji and his mother, Mrs. Makiko Inoue, are as open-minded with regards to food as the three chefs present and actively organize events under various cultural themes, including those food-related. The venue made us feel that it was the best environment for this special feast held to communicate to guests the “simple food” experience.

The study as the venue. In the garden, the gentle spring sunshine played upon the splendor of the natural greenery.

More than thirty guests with an interest in the epicurean attended the luncheon, which opened with an address from Makiko Inoue, mother of the temple master, and the three chefs.

Kamakura-grown vegetables and seafood from Sagami Bay are widely used by restaurants in Tokyo, due to their proximity. The majority of the feast ingredients were obtained locally. Particularly fresh were the vegetables acquired not only from local markets but also from fields surrounding the temple and neighborhood farms, just like the cuisine served at Chez Panisse, embodying the locavore spirit.

As the welcome drink, Tensei sake was served. Tensei is a product of Nozawa Shuzou, a brewery in Chigasaki, Shonan, which has been aged for ten years. While this sake is preferred for meals due to its dry taste, the initial flavors are rich and sweet with a yeast-like tang that also impresses.

A field behind Tokeiji Temple, evoking Chez Panisse in Berkeley