On October 25, 2023, a special dinner event dedicated to SUGIMOTO Shiitake‘s Dried Shiitake was held at SEN Restaurant in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York. Mr. Takashi Ikezawa from RESOBOX had the pleasure of attending “Sugimoto Chef’s Dinner: All About Umami” with Mr. Kazuhide Sugimoto, the president of SUGIMOTO Shiitake, who traveled to the US for the occasion.
The event was hosted by Mr. Ryunosuke Jesse Matsuoka, the owner of SEN Restaurant, who became enamored with SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s products. SEN Restaurant is renowned for its Japanese cuisine, which incorporates creative and modern elements, and is beloved by both locals and tourists. The sushi at SEN Restaurant, which is made with the highest quality ingredients and innovative ideas, is particularly notable, as the restaurant strives to reach “the next stage.”
The connection between SUGIMOTO Shiitake and Mr. Matsuoka began at the “Summer Fancy Food Show” held in NY last year. Impressed with the meticulously crafted flavor of the shiitake, Mr. Matsuoka visited Japan and toured Miyazaki Prefecture, where SUGIMOTO Shiitake is headquartered. There, he learned about the company’’s commitment to the community, collaborative business practices, and environmental conservation efforts. He also experienced the value of SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s unique products that are created through partnerships with organizations that work with individuals with disabilities. President Sugimoto shared, “Mr. Matsuoka told me that ‘there is value in these efforts, and I want to communicate this to our customers.'”
This event was inspired by Mr. Matsuoka’s desire to “convey the appeal of SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s mushrooms to more people in New York” after these experiences. Gourmet chefs and ordinary foodies alike were welcome to participate, and even though the event did not have free admission, it was attended by 64 people, including local winery owners and restaurateurs, who enjoyed the full course of shiitake dishes.
“Nine Shiitake-Centered Dishes”
President Sugimoto participated wearing his trademark shiitake hat, bringing smiles to the guests. In the opening remarks, he discussed his business philosophy and future prospects alongside Mr. Matsuoka. Attendees were moved by President Sugimoto’s passionate speech, with many eager for a handshake.
The dazzling multi-course meal consisted of nine dishes created by the restaurant’s General Manager, Ms. Carolyn Stec. Each dish, such as shiitake sushi, shiitake beef bowl, and shiitake crème brûlée, was richly infused with SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s mushrooms.
Among them, the “Octopus and Shiitake Terrine” featuring the distinct plump texture and thickness of SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s Dried Shiitake, harmonized with the fresh texture of octopus, and the “Shiitake Macaron” made with Japanese Shiitake Powder in the dough and filled with buttercream with chopped DONKO mushrooms, received rave reviews for the umami that was infused in each bite. President Sugimoto remarked, “The chefs’ creativity was highlighted in these exceptional dishes. I have seen shiitake used in vegan restaurants as a substitute for octopus. The harmonization of familiar textures and enhanced umami was well-received by the New York crowd.”
“Surprise of Original Beer with a Hint of Shiitake Dashi”
Moreover, the event held a big surprise for President Sugimoto. Due to Mr. Matsuoka’s promotion of Dried Shiitake to the local brewery “Kidd Squid Brewing Co.,” a limited-edition beer using shiitake was created. The shiitake dashi was carefully blended with the craft beer to achieve a delicate balance, resulting in a distinctive aftertaste of shiitake. During the course, everyone enjoyed deep-fried chicken flavored with Japanese Shiitake Powder, and President Sugimoto was highly satisfied. Participants also gave high praise, expressing hope for future sales. The beer cans, adorned with a shiitake label design, were given as souvenirs.
“Entrusting our ingredients to others for creative product development could become a strategy for future exports…” This event marked a moment when President Sugimoto realized new possibilities.
The event was a wonderful showcase of the potential for Japan’s excellent ingredients to expand in the international market. SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s ‘Dried Shiitake’ is something that all food lovers, including the increasing number of vegans and vegetarians worldwide, should experience at least once. We are excited about what the future holds. Interested restaurants, retailers, and businesses in the US are welcome to contact us. Samples are also available for testing.