SUSHISAMBA hosted a dinner at the most prominent culinary foundation in America: the James Beard House in New York.
Almost 70 reservations-only guests went on “An Edible Expedition” with a multi-course menu inspired by SUSHISAMBA’s most celebrated cities: London, Tokyo, Bahia, Okinawa, Cusco and Aomori. Executive Chef Cláudio Cardoso, Corporate Sushi Chef Koji Kagawa and Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development Richard Woods helmed the culinary journey.
Following the evening, they sat down for an exclusive interview:
1. Was this your first visit to the James Beard House?
Cláudio: Yes, and it was a great event!
Koji: I’ve had the opportunity to cook at the Beard House on four separate occasions. It is always an honor. This dinner was particularly fun as I had the chance to collaborate with the London team.
Richard: This was the second time. It was certainly great to be back again and with a different brand from the SBM family.
2. How did theme/idea come about for this dinner? What was the inspiration?
Cláudio: The theme was to take the guests on a culinary journey through some SUSHISAMBA’s most celebrated cities.
3. How did you select what cities to feature? The ingredients from each city? Were there specific flavors or feelings that you wanted to evoke? How did you choose the order of the menu?
Cláudio: I spent quite some time researching the culinary and cultural characteristics of the featured cities: London, Bahia, Tokyo, Okinawa, Cusco and Aomori. The order of the dishes was chronological according to the sequence of meals in a day. Guests started with a savoury English-style breakfast in London, followed by a lighter dish of tiger prawn in Moqueca sauce for lunch in Bahia, eel and foie gras nigiri in Tokyo for a late-afternoon snack, so on and so forth.
Koji: The menu featured classic ingredients from each city, bringing to life the texture and flavor of the localities. If guests closed their eyes mid-dessert, we wanted them to feel as though they were in Aomori (pictured below).
4. Was this dinner your first time collaborating?
Cláudio: No, I’ve been fortunate enough to do some collaborations with Koji and Richard in the past.
5. What was your favorite part about the evening?
Cláudio: Each course required different techniques and precision. Executing the food with attention to detail and timing was an adrenaline rush.
Koji: The first course – the Kobe English Breakfast – it was a very cool dish and something original to London’s location.
6. What did you want guests to take away from this collaboration?
Cláudio: Great food, an exciting journey and a memorable time.
Koji: We’re always trying to push boundaries so I hope guests walked away with a new experience.
Richard: An understanding that cocktails can be an experience in and of themselves as well as complementary to cuisine.
7. What is your favorite part about cooking in America?
Cláudio: It was something new and outside of my comfort zone.
8. Did you do anything afterwards to celebrate in New York?
Cláudio: I stayed an additional 3 days to enjoy and explore the city.
Koji: We went for a bite to eat. We were all very tired from the evening so we had to pass on the night-club.
9. How would you compare the culinary scene in New York vs. London?
Cláudio: Both cities have certainly made their mark in the culinary scene. They are very different in terms of offerings, but very similar in terms of standards.
Koji: You really cannot compare styles, but that is the beauty of it – every global city has something unique that sets it apart.
10. As Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development, what cocktails did you prepare for the dinner? What was your inspiration?
Richard: These cocktails were a part of the newly launched ‘culinary’ rage from SUSHISAMBA West Village. The inspiration was the binding of two elements to form one recipe – a harmony of cultures between the bar and the kitchen. I served a few cocktails that capture the essence of this approach: the fresh, fiery and cooling Tom Yam, which combines coriander, ginger, lime leaf, chili and vodka and is served with an accompanying nigiri and the buttery, smooth Wagyu Cocktail, which is a riff on an Old Fashioned with Japanese Whisky treated to a wash of the highest grade of wagyu before being stirred with maple and salted caramel.
11. You served some of the Culinary Cocktails that will be debuting in New York December 1st. What are you trying to achieve with the culinary-inspired cocktail?
Richard: To show how with the addition of balance, unusual ingredients and those normally associated with the kitchen can work in drinks.
13. Which cocktail is the most difficult to execute?
Richard: The Wagyu Cocktail as it takes time to prep and requires patience and precision.