Preserving the art of sushi: Australian chefs welcome new scheme

  • 06/19/2019

Yoshii Ryuichi trained for several years as an apprentice sushi chef in Japan before he was allowed anywhere near the chopping board.

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 Mostly washing dishes, he says his most used words were, “yes” and “sorry”. 

Mr Ryuichi has since opened his own Sydney restaurant and has even made sushi for the Japanese Emperor.

He says there is a big difference between sushi made in the traditional way, and the kind that may be more familiar to people outside of Japan.

“Takeaway sushi is only food. When customers try our sushi they say – it has life.”

He’s one of several sushi chefs in Australia welcoming news of an accreditation program, and guidelines on food preparation to restaurants outside of Japan.

The program would see chefs travel to Japan to learn the basics of Japanese cuisine including food hygiene and safety.

Unlike regulations placed on the use of ‘champagne’ and Greek regulations on ‘Feta’, this program is voluntary, and won’t stop people from using the ‘sushi’ label.

Traditionally, sushi apprentices in Japan spend several years observing the Itamae (sushi chef), before being promoted to the role of Wakiita, which means ‘near the cutting board’.

“Some chefs, they don’t know anything about the basic techniques. They are born suddenly, like a rock star.” – Hideo Dekura

Hideo Dekura runs a Japanese cooking school in Sydney, and has written 20 books on the subject of Japanese cuisine. He says there has been a surge of interest in it amongst chefs with little to no basic knowledge of the traditions.

“Some chefs, they don’t know anything about the basic techniques. They are born suddenly, like a rock star,” he said.

“All the ingredients are combined together then – ‘hey, this is fusion!’ But for me, the fusion cuisine still (needs) foundation… basic techniques, then cross over.”

Traditional Japanese cuisine or Washoku has previously been recognised for the specialised skills and knowledge it requires. In 2013, Japanese cuisine was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

“I think understanding the seriousness – how seriously it’s taken, applies to a lot of things in Japan,” says writer Jane Lawson, who runs food tours of Japan.

“That standard of excellence and wanting it to be absolutely perfect and the best experience of your customer. That says a lot about your culture. It’s all about doing your best.”

Mr Dekura fears the art of sushi may be lost as people favour short-courses over spending years training. 

“In less than two years you can become official, professional licenced. But that’s very instant. For me two years we did nothing…  just helping out, washing dishes and all that,” he said

“I don’t agree but I understand the situation. Because now life is very…  speed up…  Internet. Information is so fast.”

 

Salford continue Super League progress

  • 06/19/2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, Feb 21 Salford underlined their ambitious Super League credentials with a hard-fought 28-20 win over top-of-the-table Widnes at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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Tim Sheens’ side made it two wins from three with a very efficient 80 minutes against the high-flying Vikings who had their perfect start to their 2016 campaign shattered.

A sensational first-half effort from the home side was the foundation for this victory. They led 22-0 after half-an-hour before letting Widnes back into it just before the break to make a game of it.

The Red Devils should have had things sewn up by the break after tries from Justin Carney, Mark Flanagan, Greg Johnson and Josh Griffin had put them in charge.

Widnes fought back to give them a shot at it in the second period as the impressive Rhys Hanbury and Chris Houston pulled two scores back.

Stef Marsh and Corey Thompson put them to within two points with 10 minutes to go with opportunist tries, but Salford held on with Flanagan having the final say four minutes from time.

Salford got off to a dream start with two tries in the space of six minutes as Widnes got caught cold right from the off.

Carney plundered the first points of the day after four minutes as Salford fizzed the ball from right to left with Michael Dobson sending over Carney after Marsh stepped out of the line for Widnes.

Dobson added the extras and was called into again as the Red Devils split the Widnes defence in two after a weaving run from Robert Lui.

It was his pass that sent Jones clear and right over the top of Charly Runciman and on his way to a solo score under the posts.

The Red Devils were not done and they registered their fourth try of the afternoon as Griffin rampaged over the top of his opposite number Chris Bridge to make it 22-0.

After a half-time ear bashing from Widnes boss Denis Betts, the visitors came out fighting and they put themselves well and truly back in it as mini atom, Hanbury, sprinted clear to deliver a delightful offload to Marsh who scooted in for his 50th career try.

The Red Devils hit back with some classy footwork and skill from Johnson who would have scored were it not for Hanbury’s excellent try-saving tackle a yard from the line.

Thompson got another back for the Vikings to make it interesting, but Salford had enough in the tank to see it out, with Flanagan crashing over at the death.

Wakefield ensured history did not repeat itself as they claimed their first win of the season with a 14-12 victory at Hull KR.

The Wildcats were the opponents when Rovers made a winning start to Super League in 2007 courtesy of a 14-9 success.

Rovers marked their 10th season in the top flight by reducing ticket prices to create an atmosphere similar to that night, but it was another day to forget for the Robins.

With both sides looking for their first win of 2016, it was the Wildcats who claimed the two points in a very scrappy affair.

Merrin turns nose at NRL shot clock

  • 06/19/2019

Star Penrith signing Trent Merrin has turned his nose at the NRL’s new shot clock rules, labelling the changes as the latest gimmick to come out of league central that you “can’t really buy” into.

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The Penrith-Parramatta trial was the only game of the weekend to involve the countdown for both scrums and line dropouts, as well as the highly-anticipated referee bunker.

And while both Panthers coach Anthony Griffin and Eels counterpart Brad Arthur were happy with the initial results, an honest Merrin took aim at the NRL for continuing to tinker with the rules.

“They keep changing rules every year so you can’t really get used to something,” he said.

“It’s been efficient for us because you’re getting more time (to rest), I think. But they’re going to play around with the rules every year.

“Things are going to come in, and things are going to come out. You can’t really buy into it.”

In a bid to reduce time wasting and to increase fatigue, the NRL has introduced a raft of changes for the 2016 season, including the reduction of interchanges from 10 to eight.

A 35-second shot clock on scrums has also been brought in, designed to lower the previous average of 40 seconds per scrum.

The early feedback from players and coaches throughout the trials is that teams are tracking to scrums quicker but are then found standing around waiting for time to expire.

“What do they do – make it 25 or 20?” Griffin said. “I didn’t notice it at all, so I ain’t got an issue there. If one teams wants to get in there and pack it quick – they’ve got to pack it, don’t they?

“On a whole, I didn’t notice it much.”

Arthur was a fan of the changes.

“I didn’t notice (the bunker) as disruptive as I had my head in the game,” he said.

“We had the shot clock for Canberra in round 26 last year, and we’ve done a fair bit of training for it in the pre-season. I think the shot clock for the scrums and dropouts are good. I like that.”

Djokovic focused on extending unbeaten run

  • 06/19/2019

Novak Djokovic has vowed not to become over-confident as he seeks to extend a 15-match winning streak when he returns to action in Dubai, his first tournament since winning a sixth Australian Open title last month.

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The Melbourne Park victory earned the Serb an 11th grand slam trophy, bringing him level with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver, and the 28-year-old admitted such milestones are important to him after winning four of the past five majors.

“People start talking about the all-time greats and me coming closer to them, but I still would like to follow the same approach and philosophy of focusing only on the next tournament,” Djokovic told reporters in Dubai.

“I try not to be over-confident because I have lots of respect for other players but being at the peak of my career I’m trying to use this momentum and take everything out of myself and achieve more.”

After winning 34 of his last 35 grand slam matches, it is not inconceivable that Djokovic could end up eclipsing Roger Federer’s record of 17 majors before too long.

But for all his success, Djokovic has yet to crack the French Open, finishing runner-up on three occasions.

But with rivals such as Federer, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal unable to keep pace with him in the best-of-five set contests, the Serb is hoping to end his Roland Garros jinx in 2016 and perhaps even become the first man to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

“I try to approach each tournament optimistically and I believe that I can win every match that I play against anybody on any surface,” said Djokovic, who is 12-0 this year.

Anything other than victory in Dubai, where Djokovic will potentially only face two other top-10 players, would be a huge shock especially after Federer withdrew with injury. The duo have won the last seven Dubai titles between them.

Djokovic’s most likely challenger in Dubai will be world number four Stan Wawrinka, who beat him in last year’s Roland Garros final.

“He has been playing at a different level from the rest of the players. He’s number one by far. It’s going to be tough to beat him this year,” Wawrinka told reporters.

Cyclone Winston: Curfew lifted for devastated Fijians

  • 06/19/2019

Some flights resumeStorm among the most powerful recorded in southern hemisphereSix killed, casualties could rise as remote areas report damageAid agencies warn of potential major health crisis

Relief efforts will continue on Monday after unrelenting rain and downed powerlines hampered officials trying to assess the damage caused by one of the southern hemisphere’s most powerful cyclones on record.

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A curfew will be lifted on Monday morning after officials worked to clear vital roads and the main airport overnight.

Virgin Australia has announced it will resume flights in and out of Nadi on Monday, while Jetstar and Fiji Airways have cancelled their scheduled flights.

#TCWinston: It’s likely smaller villages in #Fiji have suffered most, losing homes and crops – @UNICEFPacific pic.twitter韩国半永久纹眉会所,/md4FJmn9vS

— UNICEF (@UNICEF) February 20, 2016

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has confirmed at least six people died after category-5 Cyclone Winston swept through the tiny island nation on Saturday night, flattening homes and downing trees.

“Many people have been left stunned and confused about what to do,” he said.

“This is a time of sorrow but it will also be a time of action … we will reclaim what we have lost.

“There’s still much work to be done.”

Mr Bainimarama declared a 30-day state of emergency, with schools ordered to shut and a nationwide curfew extended until Monday morning.

“When we are able we will provide timelines for the return of water and power,” he said, adding that electricity supply to some areas had been deliberately cut to avert further damage.

The archipelago of about 300 islands hit late on Saturday by tropical cyclone Winston, which packed winds of 230 kph (143 mph) that gusted up to 325 kph (202 mph).

Businessman Jay Dayal, who lives near Rakiraki, on the north coast of Fiji’s main island where the cyclone hit land, said the storm damage was extensive.

Iconic “Ivi” tree in Suva succumbs to Winston 韩国半永久纹眉,韩国半永久纹眉,/KHwZHjnQH2 #TCAftermath #CycloneWinston #IviTree pic.twitter韩国半永久纹眉会所,/HQnl9F7Pdb

— Rachna Nath (@RachnaFijiTV) February 21, 2016

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people are now starting to go without food,” Dayal told Reuters. “It looks like a different country, it doesn’t look like Fiji.”

Humanitarian agencies warned Fiji may be facing a potential health crisis, mainly due to the lack of electricity. Low-lying river areas where hundreds of people live in tin sheds are also particularly vulnerable, aid workers said.

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“We need electricity to ensure pumps are working and for sterilization,” Raijeli Nicole, an official of aid agency Oxfam, told Reuters by telephone that flights have been scheduled on Sunday to assess damage in remote areas.

Extensive damage

An elderly man died on Koro Island when a roof fell on him, authorities said. In a nearby village, 50 homes were reported to have been destroyed.

“Some villages have reported that all homes have been destroyed,” Jone Tuiipelehaki of the United Nations Development Program tweeted late on Saturday.

Govt of #Fiji declared a state of natural disaster & a nationwide curfew is still in place following #CycloneWinston pic.twitter韩国半永久纹眉会所,/PH1Fet9kg7

— Oxfam Australia (@OxfamAustralia) February 20, 2016

People flocked to 758 evacuation centres on Saturday, while tourists hunkered down in hotel ballrooms and conference rooms in coastal areas.

“The images that we’re starting to see roll in are terrifying,” Alice Clements, a UNICEF official based in Suva said by telephone, describing visuals of a car on a building roof and a small plane nose down in debris.

Related reading

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who offered to send a P-3 Orion aircraft to help in the relief effort, said about 1200 Australians were registered as being in Fiji, although there could be many more.

Australians are frequent travellers to the archipelago, which gets around 340,000 tourists each year. Airlines Virgin and Jetstar on Saturday suspended flights to Fiji, and the national carrier suspended all flights.