There are more similarities than differences between Japan and Spain when quality of ingredients, the dedication of chefs and passion for good food is concerned. These two countries are captivated by exceptional quality of products – some of the world’s best ingredients come from the land and seas of both Spain and Japan. My passion for these two incredible cultures grew stronger when I started spending more time in Ibiza a few years ago. Many think Ibiza is all about 24-hour parties, but the island, which was once inhabited by Phoenicians, Romans and Moors, has many faces. It’s as easy to experience a peaceful and secluded lifestyle enjoying the island’s natural wonders and food, as it is to party non-stop.
Wherever I go, longing for Japan and its culture always follows me. That’s why last August, together with a foodie friend of mine we invited our friend and one of the best Tokyo’s yakiniku chefs Kentaro Nakahara to Ibiza. Eventually legendary sushi master Keiji Nakazawa joined him too and that’s how the first “Japan meets Ibiza” event was born. The most interesting part of the weekend for me was not even the food, which was wonderful, but how the Japanese chefs managed to cook under completely new conditions and with just a few hours of preparation.
Japanese chefs like calling themselves shokunins as they are artisans, who practice the same craft all their lives and try to make it better and better. Their work is all about exceptional ingredients, techniques and striving for perfection. Like Japan, Spain has thousands and thousands of dedicated shokunins too, just instead of making sushi, they are cooking “arroz a banda” (a traditional dish of rice cooked in fish stock, typical of the coastal area of Alicante)!
I am very excited to share that the rendezvous of Japanese and Spanish gastronomies is taking place again this June, just this time not only in Ibiza, but also in Barcelona. Yakinku master Kentaro Nakahara (Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara,Tokyo) is joined by Takaaki Sugita, owner of one of the best, if not the best, sushi-ya in Tokyo Sugita sushi and Yoshiteru Ikegawa, number one for yakitori and owner of Torishiki. Sugita sushi and Torishiki are legendary for being impossible to reserve for non-regulars and are usually fully booked months in advance, yet they will all close their restaurants for one week to travel to Barcelona and Ibiza.
I am so very lucky to have the generous support of ANA, without which it would have been difficult to organize such a special event. ANA, the largest airline in Japan and a member of Star Alliance, was awarded with the highest 5-STAR rating for the fifth consecutive year by SKYTRAX and is proud to be one of only 9 airlines in the world earning this honorable accolade. Like Luxeat, ANA is passionate about bringing people and cultures from around the world together. I’m equally indebted to the wonderful Mandarin Oriental Barcelona hotel where our second dinner will be hosted and of course chef Albert Adrià, who will be cooking with the shokunins at Pakta, his Japanese-Peruvian restaurant in Barcelona. And a very special thanks to Destino Pacha resort in Ibiza, who will be hosting the chefs during our stay in Ibiza.