The 2018 World Umami Forum Cooking Competition served as an exploration of umami for culinary students across the country. The inaugural competition kicked off on September 20th, where six semi-finalists from America’s top culinary schools created their best umami-rich recipe in the form of a signature entrée at the Institute of Culinary Education. The contestants were judged for technique and taste, going head-to-head for a chance to win an all-expenses paid culinary trip to Japan. Overseeing the competition were five of the industry’s top culinary experts. Two technical judges, Chef Rich Rosendale, Director of Culinary Roots 567 and Chef Aaron Bludorn, Executive Chef at Café Boulud. And three tasting judges, Chef Steve Jilleba, Chef Owner, Chef Matt Gibson, Senior Executive Chef for the New York Yankees, and Amanda Hesser, CEO and Co-Founder of notable online platform Food52.

Contestants began the competition at 15 minute staggered intervals to ensure fast and fair judging. Each contestant randomly selected their start time and had two hours to prepare their dish. Once their two hours were up, they had 10 minutes to present their dish to our tasting judges and answer any questions before they are asked to leave while the judges deliberated.

Attendees at the World Umami Forum were able to experience the closed cooking competition via a live stream throughout the two-day event and the grand prize winner was announced by President Nishii during the awards luncheon on September 21.