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Inaugural Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition winner revealed

Published:  27 January, 2016

The winner of the inaugural Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition 2016 has been announced.

Natasha Cohen, a London-based copywriter, won the award at the competition's finals, held at London's Japan Centre on Sunday, January 24.

The competition was open to both professional chefs and experienced amateurs.

Contestants were asked to create two original sake-inspired recipes, one sweet and one savoury. Each dish was judged on how well it incorporated the sake flavours, as well as on the quality of its presentation to the panel of expert judges.

Cohen's two dishes were a Drunken Hainanese Chicken Rice and a Strawberry Sake Mousse with White Chocolate Shell.

Her prize includes an exclusive one-week trip to Japan, part of which involves a two-day training course at the Gekkeikan Sake School in Kyoto Fushimi.

The aim of the competition is to raise awareness of the potential for cooking with sake beyond its role in Japanese cuisine.

The panel of judges comprised Toshihiko Sakaguchi, director general of Jetro London; Rie Yoshitake, sake consultant for Sake Samurai; Anna Greenhous, sake correspondent for Harpers Wine & Spirits; Yukimasa Noda, general manager of Gekkeikan's international division; and Kanji Furukawa, chief executive chef at Shoryu & Ichiryu.

Second place in the competition was won by Mutsumi Kramer, who created a Sake Souffle Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts followed by a Rosey Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce.

Mutsumi was awarded a two-days certified sake sommelier course at the Sake Sommelier Academy.

Adam Frosh took third place with his Fillet Beef Tartare in Sake and Sake Cheesecake Brulee with Sake & Plum Aioli.

Gekkeikan is one the top five sake brewers in Japan.

The popularity of sake has been growing internationally for some time.

Exports of sake have risen by close to 90% over the last two decades.