– 9th All Japan School Lunch Championship –
Twelve couples of school lunch professionals show superb skills
The final match to determine the best school lunch of the year was held at Kagawa Nutrition University in Toshima-ku, Tokyo, and the top 12 finalists, either school lunch centers or school dieticians for elementary and junior high schools, did their best to demonstrate their original menus all rich in local ingredients.
The 9th All Japan School Lunch Championship was organized by a non-profit organization, Research and Institute for 21st Century, with an aim to support dietary education for Children. The 12 local champion teams came from Aomori Prefecture in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, each after winning four preliminary local contests. With a school dietician and a cook working in a pair, each team had to prepare the lunch for six servings within one hour in the kitchen where judges are around checking their skills and procedure. Every pair worked in perfect harmony to get everything done quickly and precisely from cutting to cooking. Some seemed to have had difficulties using unaccustomed tools but many demonstrated their professional skills effectively, for example by using a cooking thermometer to ensure the food was thoroughly cooked.
It was such a close game that the judges had to extend their tasting time, but finally the best school lunch of the year in Japan, out of 2,157 presented, was a menu produced by the School Lunch Center of Fujisato-cho, Akita Prefecture, that featured a Tanpo (pounded rice on a chopstick with miso-based sauce), which is one of the local specialties of Akita Prefecture. The lightly toasted Tanpo rice bars are made of local Shirakami Akitakomachi brand rice and miso made of local soy beans. It’s one of the favorite foods of local school children. Other dishes in the menu were also rich in local ingredients such as green soybeans and belvedere fruits. “They all tasted very good and are rich in local foods and ingredients of Akita Prefecture,” said one of the judges, explaining why it won the 1st prize. The winners, Naoko Katsurada, 50, a school cook, and Sanae Tuya, 36, a school nutritionist, happily said, “We’d like to keep offering lunches which are tasty, nutritious, and rich in seasonal foods so that our children can think of what they ate at school in the future, particularly when they are in their own kitchen preparing foods for themselves or others.”
(Dec. 14, 2014)