Cuisine at Chicago Gourmet
Authentic Wagyu Beef Focused by Chef Chiba
• “Bon Appetit Chicago
Gourmet” took place at Chicago’s Millennium Park on September 29th and
30th, and other related events were held at different places in Chicago
between September 26th and 30th.
• Japan Pavilion was opened by the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago
in conjunction with some Japanese companies to introduce Japanese cuisine,
culture, sightseeing spots, and more.
• On the Main Stage and Culinary Stage, cooking demonstrations were held by famous chefs all the days. This year, Japanese Chef Masuo Chiba from Tokyo gave a lecture how to eat wagyu Japanese beef in delicious ways along with Chicago’s Chef Takashi Yagihashi of Slurping Turtle.
Wagyu Japanese Beef Introduced by Chiba and Yagihashi
• For the last demonstration on the Main Stage, Chef Chiba spoke about the genuine wagyu produced in Japan with witty English translations provided by Chicago attorney George Kobayashi. While Chiba was talking, Chef Yagihashi cooked thin-sliced wagyu meats in a way of shabushabu and sukiyaki. The demonstrations were emceed by Steve Dolinsky, award-winning food reporter in Chicago.
• Chef Masuo Chiba, who was born in a family of a wagyu grower and a quality judge, opened his first restaurant “Kakunoshin” in his hometown of Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture by using wagyu raised in the town. His unique characteristics are purchasing a whole wagyu and maturing its meat to make it softer and tastier. He has taken entrepreneurship to bring produce in his hometown to Tokyo and beyond through his 16 restaurants, three in Iwate and 11 in Tokyo.
• Chiba said that the word “wagyu” has become one of the beef brands in the world and has been produced abroad; however, “wagyu” was a Japanese word and a type of beef meat originated in Japan. He explained the differences between authentic wagyu and foreign produced.
• According to Chiba, wagyu producers are divided in two categories,
breeding farmers and raising farmers. When calves become 10-months old,
breeding farmers bring their calves to market, then raising farmers buy
some calves by their preferences such as calf’s size or future meat quality.
• The wagyu meat is marbled with red meat and fat, so it is better to eat as shabushabu (cooked in boiling water) with ponzu, sour soy sauce, or sukiyaki with sweet soy sauce rather than eating it as a steak.
• Chiba said that every part of wagyu raised in Japan was tasty because
farmers grow each cow with a special care. His restaurants buy a whole
wagyu and divide it to 82 parts, then cook each part differently.
Wagyu & Sake Tasting Event
• A Wagyu & Sake Tasting event was held on October 1 at the official
residence of Consul General of Japan to invite food industry professionals.
The event was hosted by the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago in cooperation
with JETRO Chicago to take advantage of Chef Chiba’s visit to Chicago
and to introduce pairing tastes of wagyu and sake.
• Consul General Naoki Ito said that the Consulate has seized every opportunity
to promote sake and Japanese food in the Midwest in conjunction with JETRO
Chicago. “So the people in the Midwest know about beef, but one thing
missing may be how good wagyu is with sake. Today’s wagyu from Kagoshima
has been available in the Chicagoland area through distributors,” he said.
• Chef Chiba said, “You can not only enjoy simply eating a piece of wagyu
meat, but also enjoy making combinations with other ingredients. In this
way, you can find unique flavor of wagyu. Today, you will experience it.”
Interview with Chef Chiba
• Q: How did you start your business?
• Chiba: I was born and raised in a family of wagyu judges in Ichinoseki, Iwate, so I was familiar with wagyu. I once worked in a private company and returned to my hometown and opened a Kakunoshin restaurant in 1999. At that time, I thought that direct marketing age would come soon. Producers like wagyu raising farmers would sell their cows directly to the food industry or consumers. So I thought that I would try to work in a span, from producing wagyu to a moment that a consumer brings a piece of meat into his or her mouth.
• For about for 10 years, I have been working to connect many kinds of
produce from Iwate to Tokyo and to the world.
• I believe that our customers are making investments when they eat at our restaurants. They eat a delicious meal and pay for it and know where their money is going. I wish that the number of such people increases, so that we can preserve our local cuisine which is supported by local culture, customs, history, and etcetera. I believe that supporting our local uniqueness will contribute to the growth of Japan’s economy.
• Q: What is maturing wagyu meat?
• Chiba: Meat is protein, so the digestive enzyme “protease” works to cut protein fiber, then the protein turns to peptide, which is made of amino acids. So the meat’s flavor is enriched during the maturing process. This is different from dry aged beef in the U.S.
• Q: Why do you buy a whole wagyu?
• Chiba: I have a clear concept to help producers. If you are a producer, and a buyer wants only fillet, how do you feel about it? I think that an important thing is accepting all the parts of wagyu and to think about how we can support producers while we consume it with our customers.
• Q: That is why your restaurants serve a full course dinner of Chef’s choice.
• Chiba: Yes. I have been studying how to cook every part of wagyu meat in the most delicious way. It’s a series of meat innovation.
• Q: What was the key of your business success?
• Chiba: If your customers don’t make a repeat order, you cannot make a success. I always ask customers what they don’t like or how they want us to change. I just followed their opinions.
• Q: Thank you very much.
Entertainment in 2018 Chicago Gourmet
Demonstration by Chef Chiba
Wagyu "shimofuri" slices
Wagyu and Sake Tasting Event
Chef Masuo Chiba