Ever since I was a little girl I remember loving Japanese food. My very first memory of it was being introduced to sushi by my aunt, uncle and cousins at a small sushi stand in a local shopping center in Melbourne, Australia. I must have been about twelve years old but I’ll never forget the experience; Popping the tiny pink parcel of salmon nigiri into my mouth with a dot of wasabi some pickled ginger and soy. I remember the smooth silky texture of the fresh raw pretty pink salmon and the sweetness of the fluffy white rice. I remember my cousin showing me how to snap the wooden chopsticks apart and mix the wasabi into the soy. This was the start of my obsession with sushi and Asian cuisine. As a twelve year old, sushi was not only very tasty but also a lot of fun and still to this day I find the same enjoyment when I go to a Sushi restaurant.
Over the last ten years in Israel sushi has taken off and grown to become one of the most popular cuisines eaten by Israelis in a restaurant setting. Back in 2005 there was only a handful of sushi restaurants in Jerusalem, and nothing to write home about either (literally, as I was on my year abroad in Israel after school)- and yet just a little less than ten years later there are more than ten different sushi restaurants in the city, the majority of them being kosher. Tel-Aviv too can boast well over one-hundred restaurants that serve sushi with around 20% being kosher.
Israel in-fact has the third highest per capita consumption of Sushi in the World! That’s huge! In laymen’s terms basically in order of highest sushi consumption Japan is first, followed by New York and then Tel-Aviv!
Eat your sushi-filled hearts out rest-of-the-World!
Israelis just love eating sushi, so much so that to celebrate the sushi-eating culture that’s been cultivated here, Israel hosts an annual sushi making competition with around 30 Israeli sushi restaurants competing for the top prize. Over 500 people attend the competition every year including Japan’s ambassador to Israel Ambassador Shigeo Matsutomi.
It with this obsession that Israelis seem to have with Sushi and Asian cuisine that The Food Channel has introduced the latest cooking show and celebrity chef to its viewing repertoire; Sachie’s kitchen.
Sachie is a Japanese-born chef who lives in New Zealand and I recently had the pleasure of interviewing her all about Japanese food and her personal food Journey.
Sachie’s food obsession began at a young age but it wasn’t until she moved to New Zealand where she found herself sharing an apartment with some Japanese chefs that things started to really take off. There they taught her ‘a variety of invaluable techniques’ and particularly ‘how to be creative using domestic appliances and ingredients’.
On her show, Sachie goes through different Japanese recipes, mainly noodle, fish and beef dishes but occasionally Sushi makes an appearance. I asked Sachie if Sushi is considered an everyday food in Japan. She explained to me that growing up she would only eat sushi ‘3-4 times a year because it was very expensive and usually was eaten to celebrate an occasion.’ In Israel many people would consume Sushi 3-4 times in one month! Sachie believes that sushi has become a kind of ‘healthy fast food’- A trend that is reflected all over the World and Israel is no exception!
Sachie’s show is really all about making Japanese food simple. She believes that ‘the biggest myth about Japanese cuisine is that it’s complicated- because of the beautiful presentation’. Her ‘whole mission is demystifying Asian food for people so they can cook at home and enjoy the meal with friends and family’. Personally I love watching Sachie cook up a storm with her Japanese- New Zealand accent which reflects the style of cooking which is often a mix of Asian and Western recipes.
Every show starts with an adventure to a market or factory in Japan, followed by a trip to the local supermarket in New Zealand and then finally an explanation of how to assemble the dish at home. With her beautiful bubbly personality as passion for food and life that comes through the screen of the TV (her philosophy is ‘Happy food-happy home’) Sachie is slowly taking over and becoming one of the first mainstream celebrity chefs to grace our screens with Japanese cuisine- and I for one love it!
Sachie now owns the largest Asian cooking school in Australisia (That’s Australia and New Zealand for those who were wondering) with over 13,000 students in the last five years alone!
As for her career aspirations, there seems to be a lot in the works…
Sachie’s cooking school in New Zealand is doubling in size and she also plans to host more TV shows featuring different Asian cuisines. She also has ‘something very exciting in the way of consumer products range’ but when I asked her what exactly she told me with a figurative wink ‘I can’t tell you too much about that just yet….shhh’.
As for coming to visit us over here in Israel she said she’d never been but it was ‘on her list of things to do’ and if an opportunity came up she wouldn’t say no! Perhaps we could convince her to come and help judge the next Kikkoman Sushi Master competition here!
We wish Sachie the best of luck in all her endeavors! I for one will continue to enjoy Sachie’s easy no fuss approach to simplifying Japanese cuisine with her warmth and effervescence coming through the screen while I put my feet up at the end of a long day!
You can stay updated with Sachie’s adventures via her Facebook page and watch her show most days at around 4pm on The Food Channel.