Leading Tokyo culinary school spreading art of ‘washoku’ across the globe

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By Takaki Tominaga

Gastronomy students from around the globe are learning how to master traditional Japanese cuisine — known as washoku — in Tokyo, with the added bonus that they can obtain a diploma from one of the world’s most famous culinary schools.

Le Cordon Bleu launched a Japanese cuisine program at its Tokyo campus last month, four years after the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized washoku as an intangible cultural heritage, sparking increasing demands for Japanese cuisine in the global market.

“The finesse of washoku appeals to a lot of people. It is very detail oriented and requires craftiness,” Kiyoaki Deki, 55, technical director of Japanese cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Japan, explained in an interview.

The six-month diploma program teaches comprehensive skills and knowledge of authentic washoku and its culture, and has attracted a multinational student body.

“I wanted to attend this course to get more inspiration,” said Lin Chen-chiang, 35, who runs a ramen shop in Taiwan, adding that he is learning something new about washoku every day.

According to Deki, a growth in health awareness is another reason why washoku is gaining popularity. “There are Japanese cuisine dishes that do not use animal derivatives, such as shojin ryori (devotion cuisine). We teach that in our program also and students have been very much interested in those sorts of dishes,” he said.

The Cordon Bleu network consists of over 35 institutions in 20 countries dedicated to offering top-quality culinary and hospitality programs. Established as a culinary arts school in Paris in 1895 by journalist Marthe Distel, also the publisher of La Cuisiniere Cordon Bleu magazine, it has been integrating its French techniques into a variety of world cuisines.

The Japanese cuisine diploma program consists of four certificate courses — initiation, basic, intermediate and superior — and the diploma is awarded upon completion of the four levels.

In the initiation course, students learn fundamental techniques such as knife skills, the philosophy of Japanese cuisine and key cooking methods — skills they continue to develop in the basic course, which focuses on ingredients, recipes and plate presentation.

Students learn more advanced techniques in the intermediate course, where they delve deeper into traditional Japanese cooking as well as its application to regional and modern Japanese cuisine. The superior course offers the chance to refine and further deepen their knowledge and skills in order to pursue culinary careers, the institution said.

Students must stick to the curriculum, so all courses must be taken level by level.

During a lecture on tempura, or deep fried dishes, Deki explained through an interpreter a range of topics, including the price differences for various types of seafood.

Before the frying demonstration by the chef, some students took part in slicing conger eel in front of other students. Deki provided detailed step-by-step instructions on the slicing method.

He talked up the importance in washoku cooking of memorizing recipes rather than relying on measurements.

“It is also useful to remember the ratio of ingredients when making tempura sauce, rather than in actual grams, because sometimes you don’t have a scale,” he said.

There was a mirror underneath the ceiling over a cooking space, so that students seated in the back of the class room could see what the chef was doing.

“You need to pay attention to the sizzling sound of fried dishes” to figure out whether the oil temperature is right, Deki, explained as the students gathered around. “It is extremely important in washoku cooking that you utilize all five senses and ‘feel it’.”

After fried dishes were laid out in a basket for presentation, students took photos of the food and later fried their own tempura.

“In our program, students can experience something they cannot experience anywhere else. I hope they will take those skills and that knowledge back to their own countries and spread authentic Japanese cuisine there,” Deki said.


Source  :  Japan Today

Toshiba set to OK $5 billion injection Monday to stay listed

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By Taro Fuse

Toshiba Corp will decide on Monday to raise some $5 billion from overseas investors, allowing the troubled conglomerate to remain a publicly traded company even if the sale of a key business is delayed, two people with direct knowledge of the process said.

Toshiba, reeling from the bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Co in the wake of an accounting scandal, needs to raise 750 billion yen ($6.7 billion) by the end of March to avoid being kicked off the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The laptops-to-nuclear-reactors company has agreed to sell its prized NAND semiconductor unit for $18 billion, and is planning to sell its TV business and reportedly looking to hive off its personal-computer unit to raise cash.

But with the March deadline looming to avoid delisting and the chip sale threatened by antitrust concerns from China and elsewhere, Toshiba’s board will on Monday approve a plan to raise 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion) by offering shares to a group of overseas investors, the sources said.

In addition, the sources told Reuters, Toshiba will agree to take upfront losses that will allow tax write-offs sufficient to boost its assets back above liabilities for the first time in two years – allowing the firm to remain listed.

Toshiba declined to comment on the plan.

To plug the huge hole in its balance sheet, Toshiba agreed in late September to sell its Toshiba Memory unit to a group led by Bain Capital for $18 billion.

But regulatory reviews globally threaten its ability to close the sale by the March end of the business year, which would put the company in negative net worth for a second year in a row, imperilling its TSE listing.

Without any gains from the chip unit sale, Toshiba forecasts it would post negative net worth of 750 billion yen at the end of March.

The company could use the proceeds from a share allotment to pay all at once the $5.8 billion in parent-company guarantees on Westinghouse’s much-delayed nuclear projects in the United States, one source said.

The current plan is to guarantee payments to two U.S. power utilities over six years. Paying them off in full now would allow Toshiba to book losses that would reduce its tax burden enough to ensure it has the cash to remain listed, the source said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017.

Source  :  Japan Today

Poor catches lift salmon, saury prices

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Prices for salmon and saury have been rising sharply in Japan due to poor catches in the North Pacific, likely affecting households as the year-end shopping season begins.

In Hokkaido, which accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the nationwide autumn salmon catch, this season’s haul declined more than 30 percent in the period through Nov. 10 from a year earlier to around 15.3 million salmon, according to the fishery management division of the country’s northernmost prefecture.

Wholesale prices for autumn salmon stood at 1,080 yen per kilogram for the week through Nov 9 in Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, up about 50 percent from a year before.

The poor catch of autumn salmon, observed since last year, is believed to be a result of many fries having failed to survive a fall in seawater temperatures several years ago, the Hokkaido Research Organization said.

Salmon roe prices also increased, with the average wholesale price expanding nearly 1.5 times to 7,485 yen per kilogram in October from the same month a year ago, the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market said.

In Hokkaido, a series of incidents have occurred recently in which salmon roe was stolen from the abdomens of female salmon at incubation facilities.

In addition, fishermen are struggling with a poor catch of saury, a slender but fatty fish to be eaten particularly in fall in Japan.

The nationwide catch of the fish totaled 45,756 tons as of Oct. 31, a fishery cooperative for saury in Tokyo said, expecting the annual catch to be the lowest since 1976 when it came to below 100,000 tons. Wholesale prices for saury rose nearly 30 percent in Tsukiji from a year earlier.

The Fisheries Agency said the changes in seawater temperatures could have diverted migration routes, resulting in the poor catch of saury.

Major seafood company Maruha Nichiro Corp will pass the higher costs on to consumers, planning to raise the price of its canned products using salmon by 30 yen and saury by 40 to 80 yen from January next year.


Source  :  Japan Today

Qatar’s aid for development at $2bn a year

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 19 Nov 2017 – 9:46

Qatar’s aid for development at $2bn a year

The Peninsula

Minister of Finance H E Ali Shareef Al Emadi said that the proportion of the assistance provided by Qatar has exceeded the official development assistance (ODA) of the developed countries, where the Qatari foreign and non-governmental assistance is almost $2bn a year on average.

He said Qatar is not legally obliged to pay this proportion, but it fulfills it out of its belief in the importance of supporting the agenda of South-South cooperation, triangular cooperation and the financing for development agenda, reported QNA.

He was addressing the opening session of the high-level meeting to prepare for the Economic and Social Council Forum on Follow-up to Financing for Development in 2018 held in Doha yesterday.

The Minister said that the provision of such assistance is positively reflected on the achievement of international peace and security, human rights and development for all, in order to achieve peaceful, integrated and non-marginalised societies, based on strong institutions that are more accountable and efficient and more resilient to addressing the scourge of extremism and the threat of terrorism, in accordance with Millennium Development Goals 11 and 16, which are the focus of Qatar’s development policy.

He stressed that Qatar, based on its responsibility and commitment to strengthening its regional and international partnerships, will continue to play a prominent and increasingly important role in providing development and relief assistance to many countries in the world facing economic and humanitarian crises and natural disasters. This will be in addition to the official development assistance provided by Qatar voluntarily.

In this regard, he said that Qatar has provided international assistance to friendly countries in 13 sectors for various humanitarian and development initiatives around the world. Government support for aid reaches more than 70 percent of foreign aid compared with non-governmental assistance.

It indicates the political will towards fulfilling Qatar’s external commitments in line with its role as an active and responsible member of the international community.

He pointed out that 30 percent of the aid comes from external support, in the form of donations from charitable organisations, humanitarian organisations and Qatari donor institutions, which are often working to deliver various kinds of assistance to the beneficiaries, according to the best international standards and in partnership with specialised international agencies as well as institutions at regional and sub-regional levels and counterparts from around the world.

Al Emadi said that the relief sector has been the largest recipient of aid to the humanitarian sector, where Aid in the relief sector had seen a marked double-digit increase since the beginning of the second decade of the millennium in the face of natural disasters and man-made disasters. He underscored that the hosting of this high level meeting by Qatar was part of its constant commitment to be present to work with the partners of the international community to achieve the objectives of the United Nations.

The Minister noted that the high-level meeting is taking place at a time when efforts to achieve sustainable development are facing many challenges that undermine the ability of countries to make progress at the developmental level, such as extreme poverty, resource scarcity, hunger, unemployment, climate change, frequency of natural disasters, forced displacement, violent extremism and escalating conflicts.

He stressed that Qatar will continue its efforts as an active partner in the international community despite regional and global challenges in order to achieve the common objectives desired by all and meet the challenges in all areas of common interest.


Source  :  The Peninsula Qatar

Continued dialogue is central pillar of Qatar’s communication strategy

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19 Nov 2017 – 9:40

Continued dialogue is central pillar of Qatar’s communication strategy

The Director of Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO), H E Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, at the Northwestern University in Qatar event.

The Peninsula

The Director of Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO), H E Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, has called for principled communications, greater government transparency, and willingness to cope with external scrutiny.

“Sticking to our principles is most important to us. Put simply, the GCO’s role is to coordinate communication strategies across each ministry, and communicate the facts and engage externally, whether in Qatar or elsewhere,” he said in a public interview at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

Sheikh Saif has headed the GCO since it was created by Emiri Decree in 2015 to encourage the flow of information between Qatar’s ministries and other agencies with the citizenry internally and the world outside. The office heralded Qatar’s effort to craft a modern strategy for communication based on the free flow of information, but respecting local values and traditions.

Commenting on the blockade of Qatar in the context of the country’s longstanding commitment to international outreach, he argued that continued dialogue– at home, in the Middle East, and globally – is a central pillar of Qatar’s communication strategy, said a press release.

In his opening remarks, Everette E Dennis, NU-Q dean and CEO, who moderated the session commended the Sheikh for developing an office that departs from more controlling ministries of communication, common in some states that “most often constrain, rather than enhance public understanding.” He noted several NU-Q graduates serve in positions with GCO, and have been on the ground floor in helping develop “this new and imaginative agency.” Since the blockade, Sheikh Saif said it has become clear that engagement and dialogue are the most constructive way forward. He said the GCO and other ministries “continue to intensively engage with media,” adding, “we remain clear that we do not fear the boycott, and we are willing to sit at the table and build a dialogue.”

Speaking to an audience of students, faculty, and staff, he was asked by the dean about Qatar’s attitudes towards freedom of speech, and said that the media has been important to Qatar’s evolution. “Whether that’s regarding labour practices or foreign affairs, scrutiny has helped to shape policy. If we disagree with a piece of coverage, we may not get a correction, but it’s important that we remain tenacious in speaking to the media and presenting the facts,” he said.

When asked to assess the quality of media reporting around the globe, Sheikh Saif pointed to coverage in the US and European media where he said journalists “report both sides.” International media coverage, he said, has been robust as it has followed the path of the blockade. Similarly, he said, local media in Qatar have been fulsome in their coverage, while media of the blockading countries has been more one-sided and sometimes a purveyor of fake news.

Dean Dennis observed a greater public commitment to freedom of expression since the blockade began and asked whether remarks by H H the Emir and the Foreign Minister, respectively on CBS 60 Minutes and at London’s Chatham House would hold after the blockade. Sheikh Saif agreed that coverage of the blockade had highlighted trends that were already underway.

On social media, he said that Qatar does not censor social media. “People in Qatar now use social media in both Arabic and English to share views. Social media helps us understand opinions and improve governance. We try to interact with comments from people locally and to share these with appropriate ministries for consideration. We are not very sensitive, regarding various issues, whether the World Cup or foreign policy,” he said. NU-Q conducts an annual study of media use in Qatar and the larger Middle East that confirms heavy use of social media in the country.

As for Qatar’s diplomatic agenda after the blockade, he said, “Unlike some countries who have different strategies. We don’t hire lobbyists to do our bidding. Qataris and government officials will continue to engage, whether that’s with Congress, think tanks, universities, or other people in the society who have issues. We do it through ensuring we have a constant stream of visits with media outlets and others every few months and ongoing activities which allow us to directly engage with public opinion. We do it as a government, not as an office.”

During the hour-long conversation, Sheikh Saif offered a behind the scenes view of how the GCO operates and a reflection on its development since 2015 while the dean noted that the office was fortuitously for Qatar up and running when the blockade occurred.


Source  :  The Peninsula Qatar

Rain reported in northern parts of Qatar

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19 Nov 2017 – 10:42

Rain reported in northern parts of Qatar

A screen shot form the video posted by @DDD_alajmi on twitter

The Peninsula Online

Northern parts of Qatar received moderate rain today early morning, Qatar Meteorology Department reported.

On Sunday, residents shared their videos and images of rain in the northern part of the country on social media.

The weather department also promptly issued alert as their radar images showed thunder clouds with chances of thunderbolts onshore and offshore on the Northeastern coast.

The weather department also said that clear to partly cloudy skies are continuing to grow with chances of increasing rain over the weekend along with a noticeable drop in temperatures.

View image on Twitter
Source  :  The Peninsula Qatar