Who is Nancy Singleton Hachisu giving her book to this Christmas?
The author of Japan: The Cookbook tells us about her highs and lows of 2018 and who’ll be getting a great gift
Don’t toy with a classic in Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s kitchen. Despite all the international turmoil and cultural clamour of the past 12 months, the chef and Phaidon author singled out the trendy tampering with miso soup as her chief annoyance of 2018. But then, of course, Nancy is the kind of chef and author that sweats the small stuff. Her delightful, hugely detailed work, Japan: the Cookbook, teaches home cooks and chefs outside of the Land of the Rising Sun exactly how to cook authentic Japanese food. Here’s what 2018 was like from her point of view, and which notable Japanese chef will be getting a copy of her book.
What inspired you most this year? The better part of this year was spent planning and executing collaboration events in the U.S. and Australia. Between mid-April to early November, I was in the States twice for a total of five weeks and Australia twice for a total of three weeks. During these trips I did 21 collaboration dinners, lunches, and bites and drinks gigs, four demo-style cooking classes, and 15 books signing and talk events, along with a few radio shows and a local television appearance.
Being able to share the food from Japan the Cookbook was both exciting and inspiring. And I felt I had climbed a mountain successfully by acquitting myself well with all of the collaboration events. The cooks with whom I worked grew through preparing these unfamiliar dishes; the diners loved the food; and I kept my cool. A win-win all the way around!
What annoyed you most? Realising that miso, a 1000-year-old Japanese food tradition, is being perverted and made badly in this new world-craze for oddball fermentation. Talk about cultural appropriation!
What was your personal highlight? Seeing Japan: The Cookbook translated into German, Italian, French, and Spanish (Portuguese to follow!), and being well received by the people in these countries. The warmth, engagement, and positivity have been incredibly special.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Publishing my next book, Food Artisans of Japan, and more collaboration events with Japan: The Cookbook, which will always remain my opus.
Who will you give your Phaidon book to for Xmas (and why)? To Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi Jiro (Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame) because, although he does not understand much English, he will certainly understand the heart of the food and the aesthetics of the book and because his spirit as shokunin (artisanal craftsman) moves me deeply.
To read the book that Nancy plans to give to Jiro, order a copy of Japan: The Cookbook here.