Japanese chefs in France organize feasts for hospital staff in difficulty

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Asparagus soup, profiteroles with cheese and fluffy chocolate mousse were on the menu on Sunday as five Japanese chefs showed their culinary gratitude to hospital workers treating COVID-19 patients in the French city of Dijon.

“It’s a way of saying”arigatō“Thank you,” said Takashi Kinoshita, chef at Chateau de Courban, a Michelin-starred restaurant about two hours by car from Paris.

“In Japan, in the event of a natural or health-related disaster, we are looking to see what we can do. You always have to think of the others, “said Kinoshita, whose establishment closed in mid-March as France entered a nationwide lockout to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chef launched his gratitude initiative last week, offering a hundred meals to frontline hospital workers.

“But since then, my Japanese chef friends have called me and joined me. Everyone prepares their own dishes, ”said Kinoshita.

For the Sunday offer, Tomofumi Uchimura of the Stéphane Derbord restaurant in Dijon prepared asparagus soup and a poached egg in pine oil.

Keiko Kimura, from Michelin starred L’Asperule, also in Dijon, and Keishi Sugimura, from Benaton to a Beaune star, made a braised chuck steak marinated in Pinot Noir.

For aperitifs, there were Kinoshita creations in the form of gougeres à époisses – profiteroles made from soft, creamy and spicy cow’s milk cheese from the Burgundy region – as well as salted macaroons with blackcurrant mustard.

And for dessert, Kinoshita and Sae Hasegawa, pastry chef at Château de Courban, prepared a delicate chocolate mousse and a pear and lime crumble in the Philippines.

The Japanese quintet entirely concocted its creations thanks to donations from restaurants and producers. “We will continue,” said Kinosita. “Next week, we will deliver to the Beaune hospital and then to the Troyes hospital.”

The Sunday banquet was served in a parking lot outside the Dijon University Hospital, a safe distance from the main building because “you have to follow the rules” of social distancing during the lockdown, Kinoshita noted.

The chief said he had received “a number of messages” of gratitude from hospital staff caring for people sick with the virus, which has killed more than 7,500 people in France to date.

“They say thank you,” he said, “and may it give them the strength” to continue.

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