About the Washoku World Challenge

The Washoku World Challenge is a cooking contest in which Japanese cuisine chefs from all over the world compete in technical expertise and passion for Japanese food. The contest, the 5th of its kind, is organized by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for non-Japanese chefs.

To widen the door for chefs like you to share your love for Japanese cooking, this time we will be holding qualifying tournaments in six cities worldwide (London, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo). The six chefs who pass the qualifiers will be invited to the final tournament, to be held in Tokyo on February 13th and 14th, 2018. This is an excellent opportunity for you to test your talent in washoku. Don’t miss it!

If you win in the qualifying tournament, you will:

ภาษาไทย(Tai languages)

Contest Theme: UMAMI

Umami is the source of the savoriness of Japanese cuisine. One of the five basic tastes, the others being sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness, it is an important component of a dish’s flavor. Recognition of umami has increased in recent years, and the word has made its way into many non-Japanese dictionaries. The umami taste is usually a product of some combination of inosinic acid, amino acids such as glutamic acid, and nucleic acids such as guanylic acid.

In Japan, the technique of extracting umami from kombu kelp and bonito flakes to create dashi broth was developed approximately 500 years ago. Many cookbooks were published in the mid-Edo period (around 1651-1745), and these strongly advocated the importance of dashi. Japan has a long history of valuing dashi highly, and its umami has brought out the flavors of ingredients and played key roles in the creation of delectable dishes.

The basic dashi is made with kombu and bonito flakes. The combination of the glutamic acid in kombu and the inosinic acid in bonito flakes create a delicious umami taste.

Click here for more on umami:Essential Ingredients of Japanese Food

Send us recipes that reflect your distinctive style and your passion for umami!

ภาษาไทย(Tai languages)


A Message from the Head Judge

A Perfect Opportunity to Test Your Washoku Talent on a Global Stage

The popularity of Japanese cuisine has exploded worldwide. Though many chefs of Japanese restaurants have not been trained in Japan, this does not mean that they do not know the cuisine well. There are chefs sharpening their Japanese cooking skills all over the globe. We hope that you will enter the Washoku World Challenge, an official cooking contest organized by the Japanese government, and take the opportunity to test yourself in skill and understanding of Japanese cuisine. Should you advance to the final tournament, you will be invited to Japan and have the chance to experience the cuisine in its native land. We hope that the contest will continue to serve as a launching point for chefs eager to increase Japanese food fans worldwide.

Head Judge
Yoshihiro Murata
Owner & Chef of Kikunoi, Chairman of Japanese Culinary Academy

Advice from the Deputy Head Judge

Balance between Umami and Other Tastes Is Key

In 2013, Washoku was registered as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. This was a long-standing wish of all of us in the Japanese culinary field, and I felt it was a wonderful opportunity to share the allure of Japanese cuisine with the world. I believe that dishes, when they cross borders, should be reinterpreted with the ingredients and culture of the adopted land.

I feel that Japanese restaurants around the world have done just that, and are serving unique dishes. Unfortunately, I have also found that often the dashi, the very foundation of Japanese cuisine, is being neglected. The theme for this contest is UMAMI, one of the five basic tastes, found in abundance in good dashi. In Japanese cuisine, umami is used as a base to which other tastes such as saltiness and sweetness may be added, to create a delicate balance and vary the flavor. I advise you to take this into consideration when developing your recipe.

In addition to showing your technique, I also hope that you will incorporate the Japanese spirit of omotenashi, or hospitality, into your recipe. I encourage you to take the challenge, to create dishes that reflect the balance of flavor and the omotenashi spirit that are Japanese cuisine.

Deputy Head Judge
Masahiro Nakata
Director of Taiwa Gakuen Education Inc.
President of Kyoto Culinary Art College

A Message from the Judge of Final tournament

An Exceptional Chance to Further Deepen Understanding of Washoku

The theme for this contest is UMAMI, prominent in delicately flavored dashi made with exquisite ingredients that is the core of Japanese cuisine.

True washoku can only be made with both technique to appeal to the customer’s five senses and a spirit of hospitality, and should be prepared by a principled cook who always has the customer's enjoyment in mind. I hope that you can fully express your zeal for Japanese cooking and your accomplishments in your country in the Washoku World Challenge.

This contest, organized by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, gives regional tournament winners the chance to travel to Japan for the final. It is my hope that you take the challenge and grab this opportunity to expand your possibilities worldwide.

Kimio Nonaga