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 DIALOGUE

 

 

 

JP / EN

 

 

 

Shunsuke Inada

 

Yoko Ueda

 

 

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Artist

 

Director

 

Q.

The two of you have worked in collaboration since last year's KANAZAWA FRINGE. Can you remember the impression or feelings you had of each other when you first met?

 

Yoko

 

We first met when I took part in a "special course" dinner party held at the restaurant called "Enso" that Shunsuke opened in Gifu prefecture. The course consisted of food favored by Shunsuke himself and was served comprehensively. Shunsuke also performed waiting duties and explained every dish placed in front of us. Everything from the madras chicken curry to the white keema curry were simply delicious. After all the excitement and discussing what eat dish was and how he made it, I remember my stomach bursting from eating so much (laughs). Although I had often heard rumors, actually watching Shunsuke gleefully talk about his love of cooking made me realize how much he likes food.

 

Ah yes, that special dinner party was colloquially known as the "perverted course" (laughs). I remember that you attended that dinner party through an introduction by Kanazawa-based ceramist Yudai Shii. Yoko is someone who has their own preferences but is flexible enough to enjoy trying new things, and these are traits I can definitely relate to. Furthermore, instead of keeping her enjoyment of food to herself she tries to find ways to share that enjoyment with others. This fine sense of balance has been helpful throughout the development of the "TEI-EN" project.

 

Shunsuke

 

Q.

"Knowledge for enabling the enjoyment of food" is something you both feel is indispensable in the development of the "TEI-EN" project. The context of a New York chef who interprets Kanazawa cuisine in a "sincere yet misconstrued" manner is quite unusual. Wherever did the basis of this concept come from?

 

 

Yoko

 

My mother, who loves eating, gave me a thorough education on food when growing up. So when it came to considering the local cuisine of Kanazawa, as an adult who places such importance on food, I felt there was a uniform and predictable manner in which local cuisine is often exemplified and introduced. Local cuisine itself is the product of land, climate, and history, which seems obvious, but I found myself asking "isn’t there more to this than all these simplistic dishes?" I thought that Shunsuke, as someone with the ability to judge, verbalize, and actually cook food impartially, would definitely come up with some interesting ideas. This is why I approached him to ask if he would have a genuine attempt at the local cuisine of Kanazawa.

 

To begin with, I was surprised that what I was regularly doing (communicating) could be connected to art. The theme we developed this time is the "sincere yet misconstrued" and "diverse" approach to food resulting from respecting and enjoying food from other cultures. However, food only starts to look the part when combined with the right tableware. As such, someone indispensable in this year's project is ceramist Yudai Shii, who introduced the two of us. I think you could say that the cuisine of "TEI-EN" emerged through the inspiration from Yudai's highly original stoneware. While Yoko and I have the roles of "writer and cook" or "designer and producer", Yudai's role is simply to be himself through the ceramics he creates. I come up with some barely passable ideas, which are transformed into small possibilities through discussions with Yudai, Yoko pours fuel on it all, and before long it all unifies into some sort of relationship. It was sessions such as these that created this project.

 

Shunsuke

 

Q.

Since there is dedicated tableware for the local cuisine known as Jibuni (duck meat stew), it shows there's a very deep history behind the relationship between Kanazawa cuisine and the tableware used for serving. Your fictitious restaurant was open for just one day last year. Under this context, what are you planning on developing for this year's installment?

 

Yoko

 

Firstly, based on the fusion cuisine created last year, we will be producing and conducting in-store food sampling of a slightly offbeat makunouchi bento named the "KANAZAWA EXTREME BENTO" in October. We'll ask the people who eat this bento to fill in a survey regarding the order in which they ate the bento's contents. The results of analyzing these surveys will be presented at the talk event held in November. At the same time, we'll be holding an event for people interested in watching Shunsuke cook, and another fun gathering where he will recreate recipes that could be considered to be his own works of art. Also, we're planning a wide range of tastes for each of the nine portions served in the bento, so I hope people are looking forward to that!

 

For me personally, I think eating order conceals very interesting stories regarding cultural area and locality, households and individuals, and customs and traditions. That's why this year's "TEI-EN" focuses on this aspect with the aim of thoroughly analyzing the questions of "what level of importance is placed on eating order in the enjoyment of food?" and "what kind of values and diversity emerges from eating order?" Moreover, in what order will people born and raised in Kanazawa eat this "Kanazawa bento" created from a new perspective, and how will they feel about? It's something I’m really looking forward to finding out.

 

Shunsuke

 

Q.

The approach of eating order, as opposed to that of health or beauty, is very compelling. Lastly, can you both tell us what you hope to express through this year's KANAZAWA FRINGE?

 

Shunsuke

 

 

For me, I think eating is the best form of entertainment. Eating is a boundless and profound pleasure, and also the shortest path to understanding diverse cultures and values. While I totally understand that people can be satisfied with cheap, easy, and delicious, there's a lot more to eating than that. I think KANAZAWA FRINGE itself is a project that captures the freedom that emerges from the connections between many different people. In the same way, just by slightly shifting people's perspective, I hope that this project can convey the discovery and surprise in the discovery that eating can be so liberating and enjoyable.

 

I think in my case, as someone who was born and raised in Kanazawa, KANAZAWA FRINGE is a project able to throw light on matters that this "me", who lives in Kanazawa, notices or questions. However, this "me" who I speak of is not a specific or chosen person, but in terms of this year's "TEI-EN", the me that just happens to be Yoko Ueda is simply able to throw light on the cuisine of Kanazawa. Of course in the context of the entire city of Kanazawa, this project may only seem like faint torchlight, but the reason why I came across the opening of "thinking about eating like we think about art" was always due to my participation in KANAZAWA FRINGE. In the same way, what would happen if everyone living in Kanazawa could become conscious of and confront their unintentional feelings of unease or doubts and opinions toward society concealed within their hearts? I hope that KANAZAWA FRINGE will lead to such people taking a small step forward, and if the number of various "mes" in the city can increase, then Kanazawa will become a much more interesting place.

 

Yoko