Chef Jun Okada brings Japanese cooking secrets to Los Angeles. (

For the first time in America, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is offering a rare opportunity for a limited number of professional and aspiring chefs and home cooks to learn Japanese culinary skills.

A one-day course will be held at Eigikutei in Little Tokyo on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will be conducted by award-winning chef Jun Okada. The fee is $200 per person. Those who complete the course will receive MAFF’s bronze certification.

In 1966, Mutual Trading executive Noritoshi Kanai brought a Japanese sushi chef to Los Angeles, which led to the establishment of the city’s first nigiri sushi bar in Little Tokyo’s Kawafuku Restaurant, according to Trevor Corson, author of “The Story of Sushi.”

Gradually, the sushi bar grew in popularity, and word traveled back to Japan. Young chefs began making their way to America, and an industry was born. 

More recently, culinary artisans like Chef Jun decided to help bring authenticity to Japanese cuisine in America.

Okada, executive chef with the Sushi Kato Group, is considered one of Tokyo’s top culinary artisans. He is known for his knife expertise and adherence to cooking basics such as the soup base known as dashi. In Asakusa, he guides the cuisine at Kani Kato, an exclusive, invitation-only restaurant whose clientele includes international VIPs and diplomats.

He also demonstrates his techniques on television as part of the NHK World Japan food series “Trails to Oishii Tokyo.”

To register for the Nov. 1 course, email or call the Little Tokyo Business Association at (213) 880-6875.

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