Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Sushi Titans Battle! The Results
Back in September, I had the honor to be one of five judges presiding over an epic Sushi battle, pitting local Chef Tim Cushman, of O Ya Restaurant, against Chef Hisayoshi Iwa, of Sushi Iwa in Japan. The event was held at the Clarke Studio in Milford and was filmed for ABC Asahi Broadcasting, a national Japanese TV network, for a prime time cooking competition. You can read my previous article for more background and to learn more about my experience.
At that time, because of reasons of confidentiality, I couldn't reveal the judges' decision and tell you who won the competition. However, the television show has now aired in Japan so I'm now free to reveal the winner.
Before I mention the name of the winner, you might want to watch the show yourself and see who wins. The televised competition is available in two YouTube videos. On the first video, coverage of the Sushi contest begins around the 33 minute mark. The second video continues coverage, ending around the 25 minute mark.The videos are in Japanese, though if you listen very carefully, you will be able to hear some English in the background. The videographers taped much more content than is what is presented in these two videos. Plenty of coverage ended up on the cutting room floor.
The five of us judges didn't discuss who we each thought had won the competition. Our decisions were made on our own. Of the five judges, I first revealed the name of who I thought won the competition. However, this is what I said previously about my decision. "These were two very different experiences. Simplicity vs complexity. Subtlety vs boldness. Purity vs Harmony. Both experiences were equally compelling, but for different reasons. Trying to compare them is a formidable task. In some respects, it may devolve down to a matter of personal preference. In other respects, it may come down to the tiniest of differences. I certainly faced an enormous dilemma in trying to determine a winner, and my own difficulties were mirrored by the other judges. A winner had to chosen though."
In the end, I voted for Chef Iwa, opting for his purity of flavors. It was a damn difficult decision and Chef Cushman did a fantastic job. The next two votes from the judges were given to Chef Cushman, giving him a 2 to 1 lead. Then, the fourth judge voted for Chef Iwa, tying it up. The final vote, which decided the winner of the event, was for....Chef Iwa! The Japanese panel on the television show were on the edge of their seats as the votes were cast, eventually bursting forth in loud cheer when they learned Chef Iwa had won.
As I also said previously, "What I can say is that both of these chefs are winners, having created excellent dishes which any Sushi lover would thoroughly enjoy. They each gave it their all, valiant competitors who showcased their skills and experience. Each chef should be absolutely proud of their efforts and hold their head up high." It truly was an epic battle, and both skilled contenders put forth a championship effort.
If you ever visit Japan, you can visit Chef Iwa's sushi restaurant, and locally you should make a visit to O Ya and see Chef Cushman. Sushi is a versatile dish, which can range from simple to complex, and as long as it is delicious, that is all that really matters.