by Misa Murohashi, the North American Post
On May 20th, the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle hosted a special reception to celebrate the appointment of Shiro Kashiba of restaurant Sushi Kashiba as the “Goodwill Ambassador to Spread Japanese Cuisine.” Previously on March 25th, the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries appointed Kashiba as the Goodwill Ambassador. Along with 16 fellow appointees – two are in the US – this year, Kashiba represents high culinary skill in Japanese cuisine and through his ambassadorship will assist in promoting Japanese cuisine and food culture in the United States. Kashiba is the second to be appointed in Washington State, preceded by chef Takeyuki Suetsugu who is highly renowned for his Kaiseki cuisine.
At the reception, Kashiba prepared exquisite sushi creations for guests. He was joined by other famous local chefs including Taichi Kitamura Sushi Kappo Tamura, Masa Ishikura of Miyabi Sushi, Kotaro Kumita of Wataru Restaurant, Hiro Tawara of wa’z and Jun Kobayashi of Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant, who all used to apprentice themselves to Kashiba. Nationally renowned chef Daisuke Nakazawa also joined the team from New York, as he worked under Kashiba to start his career in the US after working at the Michelin three-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, where Kashiba also started his sushi chef career.
Kashiba is know as the pioneer who spread the “Edo-mae” style sushi in the US emphasizing locality and seasonality. He has successfully used Puget Sound local seafood for sushi and sashimi. During his speech at the reception, Kashiba explained that making edo-mae sushi in the Seattle style has been his lifework since he moved to here in 1966. “As I started to learn about local seafood and the surrounding environment, I just became in love with the Pacific Northwest seafood,” said Kashiba. He shared a reminiscence of when he first served local geoduck to a “very brave customer.” Geoduck was not a very popular seafood back then, but is now an expensive local delicacy and exported to the world. “This is the best day of my entire life of 77 years and 10 months. In this loving country of the United States of America, in this wonderful city of Seattle, I am very humble to receive this order from the Japanese government, ” Kashiba expressed his appreciation.