Japan gourmets to fight food fears with festival

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japanese gourmets are inviting top chefs from around the world to a festival next February to celebrate good food and rebuild trust after a series of food safety scandals.

Chefs from Asia, the United States and Europe are expected to come to the World Summit of Gastronomy, including top French chef Joel Robuchon, who has two restaurants in Tokyo, Kyodo news agency reported.

“We would like to promote the importance of dietary education since (Japanese) consumers’ trust in food safety has been shattered,” said Yuzaburo Mogi, one of the organizers and chairman of soy sauce company Kikkoman Corp, according to Kyodo.

The festival will run from February 9 to 11, 2009, and will also feature typical Japanese ingredients such as yuzu, a citrus fruit, and wasabi horseradish, Kyodo said.

A food poisoning scare over pesticide-contaminated dumplings from China in January hit confidence in Chinese-made products here. Last year, a series of domestic food scandals, from expired syrup to stale cream puffs, shocked Japanese consumers.

At the same time, food-obsessed Japan is experiencing a gourmet boom. The new Michelin restaurant guide, unveiled last November, awarded more stars in Tokyo than in any other city in the world.

Reporting by Sophie Hardach; Editing by Mike Miller