CHICAGO: Three noted Midwest chefs returned last week from an extended public relations mission to Japan, where they promoted regional foods through cooking classes and special preparation at the Osaka Hilton.
According to Tim Hamilton, executive director of the Mid-America International Agri-Trade Council (a nonprofit group that promotes US foods overseas), the tour idea originated with the USDA's Agricultural Trade Office in Osaka. Hamilton promptly got in touch with Michael Foley, chef/owner of Printer's Row restaurant in Chicago.
Foley not only agreed to participate on the trip, but also recruited Chicago chefs Alan Sternweiler of Harvest on Huron and Chris Karl of Toque.
The trip represented a new approach to food promotion for Hamilton's group?it normally uses retail displays, promotions and contests to attract consumers to U.S. goods.
The trio of chefs created 700 to 800 meals a day from July 2 through July 10 at the Osaka Hilton. An Independence Day party sponsored by the American Consulate General drew 400 guests. The chefs also visited the Osaka Culinary School to demonstrate differences between Japanese and American culinary instruction.