Leaders September 2013

Food, Glorious Food

GREAT campaign aims to improve reputation of British cuisine

Anyone who has spent any time in the UK over the last 20 years will acknowledge a revolution in British food.

An amazing diversity of cuisines is available and some very talented chefs have set up shop in the country. VisitBritain notes that the UK now hosts over 150 Michelin-starred restaurants.

While this may not seem significant to those of us living in Japan, the country with the highest number of Michelin stars, nevertheless it clearly indicates how the UK food scene has undergone a transformation.

Chefs are using more local produce and families are not relying on the supermarkets as much as they once did. Farmers’ markets are now a common occurrence, and the public as well as chefs are turning to artisan producers. Much of this is thanks to a famous British export—Jamie Oliver.

So why are we still being teased about the bad food in the UK?

It is no joking matter, as this image has a huge impact on tourism.

As one of the UK’s major industries, tourism generated some £115bn annually and provided over 2.6mn jobs as of 2010. Japanese often cite poor food as a reason for not wanting to visit the UK.

This perception is something the government has taken aim at through its global GREAT campaign. The official launch of “Food is GREAT: A Taste of Britain” was hosted on 28 August at British Ambassador Tim Hitchens’ residence in Tokyo.

Targeting the Japanese media, the event provided a networking opportunity for participants. The goal was to promote new initiatives that would allow the Japanese public to experience a truer representation of the UK food and beverage scene.

TV presenter and talent Harry Sugiyama was appointed the Food is GREAT goodwill ambassador in Japan that evening.

A number of events are scheduled across Japan, including a Food is GREAT special lunch week at the Marunouchi Café from late October and The Great British Beer Festival as part of Tokyo Designers Week in early November.

Many of these events feature BCCJ members; please visit the website for the full listing. You can support their efforts by attending and spreading the word about these happenings.

For our part at the BCCJ, guests at the British Business Awards (BBA) will be treated to a GREAT British menu accompanied by a fabulous selection of wines from celebrated British wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd. The event will open with a London Bar featuring gin and vodka from Sipsmith, a handmade spirits producer, and cocktails will be served with Fever-Tree mixers. Both brands will be provided courtesy of long-term BCCJ member Whisk-e.

So, what can you do to help change the negative perception of British food and drink in Japan?

First, you can invite your colleagues and clients to the BBA so they can experience British hospitality at its best.

Second, you can share the calendar of upcoming Taste of Britain events.

Last, if you have any ideas for initiatives that can help change the perception of British cuisine, I’m sure the Creative & Lifestyle team at the British Embassy Tokyo would love to hear from you. Bon Appetit!