SA chef takes another shot at top cook­ing prize

Chal­lenge to mas­ter Ja­panese cui­sine

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - AN­TOINETTE ISAMA

SOUTH Africa has another shot at tak­ing the top prize at the third Washoku World Chal­lenge in Ja­pan next week.

Chef Us­man Khan of Nobu Cape Town is one of 10 fi­nal­ists com­pet­ing in the high- level cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion of Ja­panese cui­sine for non-Ja­panese chefs.

This is Khan’s sec­ond at­tempt at the chal­lenge and he be­lieves his main course dish of seared sashimi udon will show his knowl­edge of Ja­panese cui­sine.

“I’m now more fo­cused on win­ning and com­pet­ing,” Khan said. “When I first got to Ja­pan, I was over­whelmed be­cause it was my first time there.”

A sushi chef for eight years, Khan ini­tially planned to study den­tistry, but af­ter his ap­pli­ca­tion got lost, work­ing at a restau­rant that served sushi while he waited to reap­ply changed his ca­reer path.

“I didn’t choose sushi, I be­lieve it chose me,” he said. “Once I was of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to be trained as a sushi chef, I never looked back.”

Khan took the judges’ marks se­ri­ously when pre­par­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion and he hopes his tra­di­tional dish will help him stand out.

“This com­pe­ti­tion fo­cuses on what you al­ready know about Ja­panese cui­sine,” he said. “I know I still have a lot to learn, but I’m pretty con­fi­dent.”

Khan notes that washoku, which trans­lates as “Ja­panese cui­sine”, is a food cul­ture that goes be­yond sushi.

“The judges want to see dif­fer­ent as­pects of it,” he said. “Sushi falls un­der washoku, but we have the op­tion to pro­duce many more, such as a tem­pura.”

A starter of furo­fuki daikon ( Ja­panese radish with miso sauce) is also re­quired of fi­nal­ists, to en­sure the chefs truly un­der­stand Ja­panese tech­nique, ac­cord­ing to Khan.

“The daikon will be braised, and we are ex­pected to make our own dashi, or fish stock,” he said.

The fi­nal­ists have one hour to cre­ate five plates of the starter dish and 90 min­utes to pro­duce their main course at the Hat­tori Nu­tri­tion Col­lege, Tokyo.

ON FORM: Chef Us­man Khan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.