October 04 2011
Today I am in Tokyo! Among the numerous trips I have made to Japan, this one is for sure of a very special kind. I arrived three days ago and spent time catching up with my teams at my restaurants, Beige and Benoit.
I am in love with Japan and the incredible richness of its culinary traditions. But this trip has been different and particularly special. This morning I arrived back from a visit to Ishinomaki, 180 miles north of Tokyo, to meet with one of the six oyster farmers who received a donation from the charity dinner organised by the Collège Culinaire de France – his name is Shigeatsu Hatakeyama. We took a boat trip to visit his farms located in a super-beautiful bay.
Collège Culinaire de France is an association of renowned French chefs, which I preside over together with Joël Robuchon. Following the tsunami, we wanted to come together to support Japanese people, and after having taken advice from many sources, we opted to support oyster farming and in particular farms that specialise in producing spats (young oysters). In the 1970s, almost all the French oysters died because of a disease; but the sector recovered thanks to the spats which were sent by Japanese oyster farms from Ishinomaki. Helping them now, in their difficult moment, seems the least we can do. Shigeatsu Hatakeyama, like all passionate producers, is a source of inspiration to me.