NHK WORLD > JAPANESE FOOD > Special Features > Dining with the Chef in San Francisco! See Japanese super-chef Tatsuo Saito in action!

Dining with the Chef in San Francisco! See Japanese super-chef Tatsuo Saito in action!

July 21, 2016

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Dining with the Chef: promoting Japanese cuisine throughout the world

Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, Dining with the Chef is a popular weekly program on NHK WORLD TV that presents the basics of Japanese cuisine in an informative and approachable way. Chef Tatsuo Saito has been with the program from the very beginning and has played a key role in advancing the global popularity of traditional dishes such as sushi and tempura. Watching him fillet fish, serve up tempting tempura and plate dishes with artistic flair, it's like being an apprentice to one of Japan's top chefs in the comfort of your own home.

Tatsuo Saito is a renowned master of Japan's culinary arts

Born and bred in Osaka, Tatsuo Saito studied Japanese cooking at a prestigious academy. From 1985 he spent three years as head chef at the Japanese embassy in Paris and then the embassy in Washington. On one occasion in Washington he had to fry 1000 shrimp tempura! In those days, Japanese food was still a rarity around the world. He says that serving the embassy guests helped him appreciate the distinctive qualities and appeal of Japanese cuisine.

One of the most striking characteristics of Japanese food, he feels, is its close connection to the time of year in a country with very distinct seasonal variation. The season is evident not just in the use of fresh ingredients but also in the plating, and these key elements are highlighted in the program. In the hot summer months, for instance, a crisp, freshly harvested cucumber may be rotated and cut to form irregular shapes that resemble icebergs as a way to offer momentary respite from the heat. Chef Saito would like to spread this seasonal aspect of Japanese cuisine far and wide, so as to make it part of everyday cooking around the world.

Another reason for the program's popularity is the light-hearted banter Tatsuo Saito enjoys with presenter Yu Hayami. His wit and humor sparkle as he offers insights into Japanese cuisine that are unknown even to veteran home cooks. Watching him prepare mouth-watering dishes, you too will want to try your hand at Japanese cooking.

Dining with the Chef is your gateway to authentic Japanese cuisine. Chef Tatsuo Saito introduces recipes that are easy even for beginners, while providing useful tips for even the most seasoned chef.

Coming up next: a question-and-answer session with Chef Saito that reveals what makes him tick.

Special Features