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Forest Exchange in Tokyo, Japan

With the support from Canada Beef, Sunterra Pork, Wines of British Columbia and Sakagami, Chef Darren MacLean, finalist in Netflix’s hit cooking competition “The Final Table”, and Japanese Michelin Star Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa presented Forest Exchange, a culinary celebration of nature, sustainability and recovery in Tokyo, Japan October 20-21, 2019. Guests were immersed in a gastronomic exploration and celebration of Canada and Japan’s wild places, and the remarkable influence forests have on humanity and our well-being.

Friends and acclaimed chefs Darren MacLean of Canada and Yoshihiro Narisawa of Japan launched and co-hosted a culinary exchange in Tokyo that spanned two international dining experiences to inform and bond the culinary cultures of Canada and Japan. The two-part ticketed dining event, Forest Exchange, showcased the chefs’ mutual appreciation for forests and the vital role these natural environments play in sustainable food and drink.

Chef MacLean says:
“This is the greatest moment of my career and I thank Yoshihiro Narisawa. This year has been an absolute whirlwind, culminating in this event with the incredible team at Narisawa. It was six years ago I first came here to Japan and met Narisawa — one of the biggest influences of my culinary life — and I never believed I would ever be cooking alongside him, nevermind collaborating! The icing on it all is that I got to showcase Canadian ingredients with the support of Canada Beef, Wines of BC, Sunterra Pork and Sakagami. Dreams do come true.”

Guests at the open format Celebration of the Forest on October 20th were immersed in conversation and interaction with chefs MacLean and Narisawa while sampling small plates highlighting the flavours of Canada and Japan. The first event at Bees Bar by Narisawa featured British Columbia wines poured alongside sake and thematic cocktails using wild, foraged botanicals from both countries.

The following day, on October 21, Exploration of the Forest was an immersive eight-course in-depth dining experience. Chefs MacLean and Narisawa crafted dishes using both their own ingredients and the ingredients of the other’s country. Each course was paired with both wine and sake, from both countries, as well as cocktails using the forest’s essence.

Canada’s sole contender on Netflix’s global cooking competition “The Final Table”, MacLean is the man behind Calgary’s Shokunin, named one of Canada’s top 50 restaurants for the past three years. On a life-altering trip to Japan seven years ago, he met Chef Narisawa owner of Tokyo’s two-Michelin star restaurant Narisawa. The two chefs quickly established a bond through a shared appreciation of nature and vision for Japanese cuisine.

“I have been fortunate to have many menu influences and mentors, but none have affected my career path or philosophy as much as Yoshihiro Narisawa,” said MacLean. “Over the years, our ideas and conversations about sustainability and the planet always lead us back to the forests.”

“All of humanity is connected to the forests that have provided the air we breathe, the structures we inhabit, the medicine we need, and the food we eat,” said MacLean. “Forests allow us to reflect on the amazing similarities that unite us. So, Forest Exchange is a testament to our humanity and an exploration of the ties that bind us and the wonderful differences that make our cultures unique.”

The healthy, natural menus at the Forest Exchange provided a delicious reminder of what we stand to gain by preserving forests forever.

MacLean recently opened Greenfish in Calgary serving the highest quality, handmade, fully sustainable sushi and he was the first-ever Canadian chef invited aboard Princess Cruises as a guest chef. Narisawa is one of Japan’s most revered chefs who calls this cuisine “innovative Satoyama” which reflects part of a cultural philosophy to take only the most necessary resources from the earth. His flagship Tokyo restaurant, Narisawa, holds two Michelin stars and is listed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Canadian Producers Support

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to support the Forest Exchange event with the supply of Sunterra pork from our farms in Alberta, Canada,” said Ray Price, President, Sunterra Group. It was “an exciting format and the chefs’ creations showcased the very best of Canada and Japan.”

“Wines of British Columbia was thrilled to partner on this extraordinary event in Tokyo,” says Miles Prodan, CEO and President of the British Columbia Wine Institute. “BC VQA wines continue to be chosen favourites among international chefs and this event offered an excellent opportunity for wine enthusiasts to experience their purity, vibrancy and freshness which pairs exquisitely with the refined elegance of Japanese cuisine.”

“Canada Beef was proud to be a sponsor of this collaborative international culinary event given Canada’s natural, rugged landscape attribute to the unique qualities of our cattle herds and ultimately the quality of our beef,” said Joyce Parslow Director Consumer Relations, Canada Beef. “It was exciting to see Canadian beef used in delicious dishes at the hands of these two masterful chefs.”

Showcasing Canada Beef 

Showcasing Sunterra Pork

Showcasing Wines of British Columbia

Venue and Agenda

The host venue, Bees Bar by Narisawa, itself embodies a forest theme and a spirit where nature and people live together. This value placed on sustainability reflects in its décor with evocative forest, ocean and mountain photographs from around Japan by Brazilian photographer Sergio Coimbra. Bees Bar by Narisawa is located at 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato City.