For decades, Italy attracted Japanese would-be chefs who travelled the world to get to the Old Continent, in order to learn how to cook Italian food right from the source’s mouth, according to Keiichi Sawaguchi, a professor at Taisho University who is knowledgeable about the trend of young Japanese cooks going abroad for training.
Italy opened several cooking schools to offer training classes for Japanese cooks and to ensure apprenticeships in restaurants across the country. More than 2,000 Japanese cooks worked so far in Italy’s restaurants, according to Kyodo news agency.
It is difficult to obtain a work visa in Italy, so usually Japanese cooks identify themselves as a student doing an odd job. It is as good as it gets for the Italian restaurants’ managers, who are happy to hire low-paid cooks willing to work hard.
Some of the cooks return to Japan quickly, as they find it difficult to adjust to the language and cultural barriers, while others are disappointed by the drab jobs to which they are relegated.
But there are also cooks appreciated by their superiors. Andrea Incerti Vezzani, Ca’Matilde’s chef, praises the virtues he has found in Japanese workers, including the meticulousness, passion and efficiency.