• Home
  • Make Your Sushi Dream a Reality – WORLD SUSHI CUP® JAPAN 2022

Photo: Convention


Jan 26, 2023

FOOD NEWSMake Your Sushi Dream a Reality – WORLD SUSHI CUP® JAPAN 2022

WORLD SUSHI CUP® JAPAN 2022 is an event in which about 20 sushi chefs who are active overseas participate, after responding to a broad call for applicants and passing the document screening process. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this competition, in which chefs compete to test their skills related to sushi, a traditional Japanese dish. Seafood to make the best sushi toppings from all over Japan can be found in the venue, Toyosu Market. The preliminary stage of this competition is the “Edomae Sushi Open Competition.” The top 15 participants in this competition will advance to the final competition, called the “Creative Sushi Open Competition.” Masayoshi Kazato, Representative Director of the World Sushi Skills Institute, and Hirotoshi Ogawa, Director of the institute, are the judges for both events. They are also goodwill ambassadors working to spread Japanese cuisine, and masters of spreading sushi skills around the world. They also spoke at a special seminar held in the interval of the preliminary tournament. In this article, we report on the speeches given by Mr. Kazato and Mr. Ogawa, who spoke to the participants about the best aspects of the competition.

Jan 26, 2023

Mr. Kazato’s Lecture: 10th Anniversary of the WORLD SUSHI CUP – The Path to the Global Sushi Boom

I have been engaged in overseas activities for nearly thirty years. When I first started, the reality of sushi around the world was completely different from what it is now. At that time, there was no cooking hygiene techniques for sushi. So, in 2010, the Japan Sushi Federation established a sushi certification system. In light of the importance of conveying to the world the cooking hygiene techniques of Japan, I decided to start my overseas activities. The participants of the World Sushi Cup must have the knowledge of cooking hygiene. Only those who have acquired the cooking hygiene techniques compete in this event.

Photo: Mr. Masayoshi Kazato

The World Sushi Cup started in 2013, which was the next stage for those issued with the certificate. When it started with the cooperation of all the supporting members of this competition, and with the help of various people, it was more like an event funded out of pocket money. However, in 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan has taken over the event. Over the past ten years, the level of participants has become very high. I hope that all of you here today will showcase your skills in your home country and use wonderful Japanese ingredients.

Unlike the past events, which used to be held at the venue of seafood, it has been decided to hold the event at the Toyosu Fish Market. I would appreciate if you could incorporate Toyosu into your growing global business with the Would Sushi Cup. Now, I would like to ask for the support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and related companies so that this event will continue to be held in the future. I would like to ask for your continued support to make this an event created by everyone, which continues for many years to come.

Photo: Toyota Market

Mr. Ogawa’s Lecture: Current Global Popularity of Sushi and Special Guests

I am very pleased to see all of you here today and thank you for coming to this event despite the difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic.  I have been working on this event under Mr. Kazato. In 2013, the first event took place at the Makuhari Messe. I fondly remember that, in the event, I was the only staff member and was cooking rice for sushi from 2:00 a.m. in the morning. I have been working under the very strict guidance of the institute I belong to and Mr. Kazato. I have been working really hard for ten years, and this event is receiving such great global attention now. I am pleased with the fact that a French media provided close coverage of the event and many overseas media also came to the event. I am delighted that all my hard work has finally paid off.

Photo: Mr. Hirotoshi Ogawa

I heard that, in 2015, the number of overseas Japanese restaurants was 55,000, but in 2022, the number of restaurants increased to 140,000. So, the number of overseas restaurants has been increasing at an incredible rate. I visit 20 to 30 countries every year, and I have seen for myself that there is a big boom in sushi. It seems to me that the Sushi market has been burgeoning. Also, it is said that there are 500,000 sushi chefs overseas. Ten years ago, non-Japanese people had the impression that sushi is a rolled food. However, recently, sushi is becoming more and more popular and there are various Japanese restaurants outside of Japan that are serving “Omakase Sushi” or the traditional Japanese style “Edomae Sushi” to customers at the counter.

In the past, sushi toppings served overseas were tuna, salmon, shrimp and white fish. However, these days, various other fish, including flounder, sea bream and sea bass, are used for toppings instead of whitefish, and more and more people around the world are eating raw fish. This is thanks to the efforts of those participated in the event who actively shared their experience back in their home countries. Now, let me introduce you to four sushi chefs today. They are four sushi chefs who have indeed made their sushi dream come true.

The first chef is Alon Than from Poland, who was the overall winner of the 2015 competition. He is currently running nine restaurants in Poland, where each can accommodate up to 600 people, so they are just at another level.  So, he is a super-rich man!

Photo: Mr. Alon Than / Izumi Sushi (Poland) / 2015 overall winner

The second chef is Tai Koon Siang. Tai was the winner of the World Sushi Cup in 2018, so he has indeed made his sushi dream come true. He is currently running a very high-end restaurant in Singapore.

Photo: Mr. Tai Koon Siang / STANDING SUSHI BAR (Singapore) / 2018 overall winner

The third chef is Roger Asakil Joya. Roger is currently running eight restaurants in Romania, so he has established his position as a very powerful owner. He owns a very high-class restaurant where the floor is made of glass so that customers can enjoy sushi while looking at carps swimming underneath the floor. He also competed in the World Sushi Cup in 2014, and this is his ninth year of participating in the event. He is one of the participants who have made their sushi dream come true.

Photo: Mr. Roger Asakil Joya / Omakase (Norway)

The last chef is Andre Kawai from Brazil. He was also an outstanding participant in the 2014 event. He is currently running ten sushi schools in Brazil and Portugal and is the principal of thousands of students.

Photo: Mr. Andre Kawai / Nagoya Sushi School (Brazil)

These chefs are just a few among many who have been successful overseas or whose lives have changed or will change by participating in this World Sushi Cup. In addition to these chefs, there is a chef who is the owner of 45 restaurants in Norway. The chef, who is originally from the Philippines, emigrated to Norway with his ten children to work. He became famous in Norway after participating in the World Sushi Cup. He is currently a successful chef, running 45 restaurants and employing over 100 people. There is also a Russian chef, who was the winner of this event, and he is currently running a large restaurant in Norway. Unfortunately, he could not make it to Japan due to visa issues. These two chefs are really successful, running Michelin-starred sushi restaurants in their home countries.

Photo: Mr. Kazato & Mr. Ogawa

I have visited many countries and I have seen for myself that sushi is gaining popularity at very fast pace. Likewise, I want to promote to overseas countries the Toyosu Fish Market and various food products that Japan takes pride in such as fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables. There are many people outside of Japan who are interested but I rarely have opportunities to let them know about them. So, I am hoping that, through this kind of opportunity, more and more people learn about them. It is the current situation overseas that people outside of Japan want to learn but cannot learn.

Comments from special guests who have made their sushi dream come true: Advice to participants

  • The most important thing is not to get too nervous. (Alon Than)
  • Please take good care of hygiene. (Tai Koon Siang)
  • I think this competition is not a place to compete, but a place to make friends. Aron and I have been friends since we met at this World Sushi Cup nine years ago. All of you here are professional sushi chefs. But I want to you think of this place as a place to make friends, not enemies. (Roger Asakil Joya)
  • I would like to remind everyone to take care of safety.  (Andre Kawai)
Photo: Four special guests

Final Remarks

Mr. Kazato and Mr. Ogawa gave advice to the event participants at the end of their lectures on what to look for in the judging. There were jokes that made nervous participants laugh such as “The fast way to win is to pay a bribe of 100 dollars or more to the event chairman.”

Photo: Seminar participant

There will be another article covering the two-day event and interviews with the winners. So please look forward to it!