The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Yota And Noriko Suzuki

When it comes to Japanese ingredients, koji is one of the most versatile and misunderstood food products out there. I like to think of it as the Batman of the fermentation world because it’s the hero mould we need and deserve. It elevates everything it comes into contact with and makes food and drink more delicious.

So, it’s always great to see more brands spreading the koji love and that’s the case with Koji Soupe. I caught up with owners Yota and Noriko Suzuki, who are on a mission to bring more koji awareness to Montreal.

Read on to learn more about the business, what got them interested in fermentation and where they see the future of Koji Soupe. 

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Scott Haas

People feel connected to Japan in different ways and in the case of Scott Haas it started when he was thirteen years old. From there, his passion grew and he went on to write about his appreciation for Japanese culture for audiences across the world.

Having recently published a new book called Why Be Happy?, Scott has explored psychology and acceptance through the lens of Japanese culture. Learn more about the book, his backstory and what he’s got planned for the future. 

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Alice Ngan

Ecila Choco.

It’s a known fact that Japanese sake goes well with pretty much anything, especially chocolate! Alice Ngan has explored this combination with Ecila Sake Chocolates, a brand that uses sake and sake kasu to create premium chocolate products.

Yamato Magazine presents an interview with Alice that covers her experience in sake, opening up a chocolate business in Toronto and exploring the local nihonshu scene. Remember that stressed is dessert spelt backwards, so grab your favourite sweet treat and enjoy reading this interview at your leisure. 

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Lillian Hanako Rowlatt

The Kokoro Files shares the stories of people who’re connected to Japan through heritage, food, culture and travel experience. The word ‘Kokoro’ is Japanese for heart, but it’s more than the physical organ. Kokoro is passion, love and connection all at once and Lillian Hanako Rowlatt channels that sentiment with Kokoro Care Packages.

Yamato Magazine caught up with Lillian about the story of her brand, her love of Japanese cuisine and her desire to help local farmers share their produce with a worldwide audience. 

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Japanese Cuisine · The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Akiko Katayama

From chefs to bartenders, Japanese food and drink has touched the lives of many people. It’s been a catalyst for changing lives and bringing new conversations to culinary communities across the globe. 

For Akiko Katayama, promoting Japanese cuisine has become a life-long pursuit and Yamato Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing her about her experiences. A tenured food writer, host of the Japan Eats! Podcast and representative of the New York Culinary Academy, Akiko is a leading expert in the world of Japanese food and beverages.

Read on to learn about how she became a food journalist, what it means to judge top-ranking chefs and how the story of Japanese cuisine continues to evolve. 

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Darren Yates

The Kokoro Files  shares the stories of people who’re passionate about Japan and who’ve had their lives transformed through experiencing the culture. Darren Yates started out in Bolton in the UK and decided to roll the dice by heading to Japan. He fell in love with Japanese cooking techniques and within a few years he brought it back home to set up a restaurant and deli empire.

I met Darren while dining in his restaurant Auradaze in Ambleside and from the first bite, there was something special about his food. He’s the kind of guy who can talk to anyone and make them feel at home, but in the kitchen he’s all business and quiet focus. 

It was a lot of fun hearing his stories about travelling across the world, serving celebrities like John Travolta and fishing for giant tuna in Bora Bora. An interview was on the cards, so read on to learn more about Darren and the concept behind Auradaze. 

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Justin Potts

Justin Potts is a co-host of Sake on Air.

The Kokoro Files shares the stories of people and their connection to Japan. This connection takes many forms, and in the case of Justin Potts, it set him off on a life-long quest to learn all there is about nihonshu. A co-host of the amazing Sake on Air podcast, food and beverage entrepreneur and Master of Sake, Justin has plenty of stories to share about his love affair with sake.

Read on to learn about how his journey started, the genesis of Sake on Air and where he feels the industry is going.

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Christopher Pellegrini

The Kokoro Files shares the stories of people and their connection to Japan, and this edition is particularly exciting for me because I had the opportunity to chat with one of the world’s leading authorities on shochu, Chris Pellegrini. A Japanese spirit evangelist, Chris is passionate about spreading the gospel of shochu and awamori. He definitely made a convert out of me!

From talking shochu 101, to clearing up the differences between shochu and Korean soju, we cover a lot of ground in this interview. Read on to discover the exciting world of Japan’s indigenous spirit. Who knows? By the time you’ve finished reading you might be ready to jump down the rabbit hole.

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Jorg Muller

The Kokoro Files tells the story of ordinary people and their connection to Japan. And whether it’s food, alcohol, history or sport, the experience is unique to each person. For Jorg Muller, his experience in Japan inspired him to start up a sake supply company, Ueno Gourmet, one of the top importers of sake in Europe.

In this interview, Jorg reveals what connected him to nihonshu, what kind of breweries Ueno Gourmet works with and what it means to get involved with some of the most exciting beverages in the world. Continue reading “The Kokoro Files: Jorg Muller”

The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Stephanie Buttery

Taking inspiration from another culture can be a life-changing decision. When Stephanie Buttery travelled to Japan, she immersed herself in the local drinking culture and returned to the UK with a goal of starting her own business. As the founder of the premium soft drinks brand, Chu-Lo, Buttery has created a drink inspired by Japanese chuhai.

After meeting Buttery at the Doki Doki Festival in Manchester, I wanted to hear the Chu-Lo story and what motivated her to start her own business. Continue reading “The Kokoro Files: Stephanie Buttery”