To work as a chef in Japan, you first need to know the language and, of course, secure a visa to work in the country legally. While Japanese cuisine is available worldwide, traditional Japanese food was only prepared by Japanese chefs. But did you know that this ban has been lifted?
Until 2013, foreign chefs in Japan were legally prohibited from working in traditional Japanese restaurants and could only serve foreign cuisine. After UNESCO designated traditional Japanese cuisine, Japan changed its regulations for foreign chefs.
How was the Ban Lifted?
Kyoto city officials announced that the state has approved a special measure that will allow foreign chefs to work in restaurants and other establishments that serve traditional, high-end Japanese cuisine.
Previously, foreigners were not permitted to work in ryotei and similar restaurants. They could train there for free as cultural activity residents, but paid positions were only available to foreign residents with Japanese spouses, according to the Justice Ministry and the Kyoto Municipal Government on Friday.
After the central government designated Kyoto as a special zone for regional economic revival in 2011, the city requested that foreign chefs’ employment eligibility requirements be relaxed. On Friday, the government approved the special measure, which is limited to Kyoto.
These establishments will be allowed to hire up to two foreign chefs for a maximum of two years under the new legislation. Candidates must have a specific skill level, be affiliated with a restaurant in another country, and be willing to prepare Japanese cuisine when they return home.
The city and the Japanese Culinary Academy, a nonprofit group organized by Kyoto-based chefs, will determine details such as the total number of chefs to be accepted and the types of training programs. The hiring will begin before the end of the current fiscal year in March next year.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Japan, approximately 167,000 of the 2.73 million foreigners living in Japan work in food and beverage-related jobs, such as restaurants, take-out or delivery services, and so on. That equates to 6.1% of all foreigners in Japan. (Source: NPR)
Japanese Cuisine Guideline
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries has launched a new program to ensure that Japanese restaurants operating outside of Japan uphold the values of traditional Japanese cuisine, known as washoku.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are now more than 89,000 Japanese restaurants operating outside of Japan, up from 55,000 just two years ago. There are approximately 22,000 Japanese restaurants in the United States alone.
The program, which will be launched soon, does not yet have an official English name. It’s known as the Japanese Cuisine Skills Certification Guidelines at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, DC.
Japan is serious about its food. The country has a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants. In 2013, washoku became one of only a few cuisines to be designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Others include French, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisines and Keşkek, a Turkish ceremonial dish. (Source: NPR)
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