Yes, it’s true: we were excited about the fact that our chef was going to enter the prestigious Washoku World Challenge, an international gastro competition organized by none other than the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Last year, Zsolt Kurkó came third. And this year in Paris – he won.

There is something magical in seeing devotion, hard work and talent find their way, especially when you have to do your best under an extreme amount of pressure: while your work is being scrutinized by a number of judges and a group of fellow competitors are standing only a few feet away, the situation can quickly become overwhelming. But the greatest artists, athletes, or in our case chefs, are able to tune out the noise and stay focused.

“Nimonovan is a soup served as part of Japanese kaiseki. Considered to be the most important course, it is a distillation of the chef’s knowledge, skills, and talent. Prepared seasonal fish and/or shellfish are placed in a bowl, accompanied by carefully selected vegetables. Soup flavored just right is poured in, topped with an aromatic ingredient, and the lid is gently closed. The customer receives the dish, excited to know what is inside. When the lid is lifted, an aroma indicative of the season fills the air and stirs the appetite. The arrangement inside delights the eyes, and the delectable flavors soothe the soul.”

The special dish, the above described Nimonovan requires the utmost concentration and has to be prepared with meticulous care, otherwise the element of surprise – the moment of opening the lid of a soup that will instantly awaken that good old ticklish feeling of first dates or birthday parties – could easily be ruined.

The European Qualifying Tournament started with a seminar about the cornerstones of the Japanese cuisine’s health and hygiene requirements, then the preparation of different types of fish and shellfish. The training was followed by a written exam and the actual cooking part could only begin after that: each chef had 90 minutes to make a perfect Nimonovan, using 5 ingredients. Besides the meal itself, the preparation was also graded by the judges. They had only one comment about Zsolt’s dish and his sophisticated technique: ‘It’s perfect’.

After Paris, our next destination is Tokyo, and we couldn’t be more excited! It’s amazing to see that our chef succeeds in representing the best of Japanese cuisine on an international level, too. The Team of Sushi Sei will keep serving you the most delicious authentic bites of Japanese gastronomy, and of course, our guests will soon have a chance to taste Zsolt’s award-winning composition in our restaurant! Follow our blog for more interesting details about Japanese gastronomy, culture and heritage. Visit Sushi Sei for an authentic culinary experience: you can reserve a table here, or order your favorite sushi boxes and tasty Japanese treats right to your doorstep!