We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Takeshi Inoue, wagashi artisan, to our school to give an exclusive Japanese confectionery demonstration to some very lucky guests.
A wagashi artisan is a Japanese confectioner, but Takeshi was awarded Master status in the art by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in November 2016, and possessing the ‘Tokyo Artisan Excellence’ status definitely makes Takeshi a cut above the rest. Also, being the fourth generation owner of Baikia-tei in Kagurazaka, Tokyo, which was first established in 1935 by his grandfather, Takeshi has had years of practice perfecting his craft. His wagashi is created from organic ingredients, and through his designs he expresses the four seasons and the beauty of nature.
There was an excellent turnout for the confectionery demonstration at our school as guests were very keen to see how Takeshi’s unique Japanese sweets are made, and what they are made from. During the demo, Takeshi presented the different Japanese ingredients from which his wagashi is made, such as adzuki beans and mochi rice dough. Typically wagashi also includes seasonal ingredients, and are suitable for vegans as no animal products, such as milk or gelatin, are used.
The event was organised by the Japanese Embassy in the UK, who were also in attendance at the demonstration to see Takeshi at work. Some of the utensils that he used on the evening were handed down to him from his grandfather which made the whole experience more personal because of this sentimental element. Takeshi also introduced the audience to an array of other sweet creations that he had brought with him, so that they could see a range of intricately, hand-made designs, including animal and flower-shaped confectionery.
The evening was a real success and Takehsi Inoue's demonstration proved to be very popular, which was evident from the vast amount of people that registered for the event. His popularity is definitely well deserved, as Takeshi demonstrated how passionate he is about his craft, and how willing he is to share his extensive knowledge. And as an added treat, each guest received some wagashi to take home and a well-deserved glass of green tea!
Le Cordon Bleu London would like to send a big thank you out to Takeshi and the Japanese Embassy for such an inspirational evening, and giving our guests an insight into the unique art of wagashi!