Japanese Food Lab explores the various possibilities of Japanese ingredients and dishes. In our Chef Series we invite experts to share knowledge and lead classes at JAPAN HOUSE.
In this workshop, Gemma Matsuyama, pastry chef at n/naka (featured in Netflix's "Chef's Table" Season 1), will present a class on wagashi (Japanese sweets), followed by a wagashi-making demonstration and tasting. Matsuyama is a seasoned pastry and dessert chef with an extensive background working in famous restaurants throughout the country, such as New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Her experience has been recognized in Zagat's 2016 “30 under 30” list and nationwide publications including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. Matsuyama is known for her experimentation with appearance and flavors using seasonal Japanese ingredients to create unique and innovative desserts.
Participants will learn about basic methods and ingredients of wagashi, then learn how to make common types of wagashi components including shiratama dango (sweet rice dumplings), anko (red bean paste), kanten (natural gelatin), and matcha (green tea) . The class concludes on a sweet note as participats are invited to taste their creations.
About Chef Gemma Matsuyama
Born in Chiba, Japan, Matsuyama spent her formative years in a Japanese/Italian bicultural household in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Part of Matsyama's inspiration came from her mother, who prepared homemade meals nearly every day, switching between Japanese and Italian dishes to preserve the family’s diverse cultures. At age 16, Matsuyama enrolled in a four-year culinary program abroad at IPSSAR G. Marchitelli in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
In 2009, Matsuyama worked alongside influential baker Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. Following this, she moved to Locanda Verde, an upscale Italian restaurant. Matsuyama then landed the role of pastry sous chef for New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns—number 11 on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” in 2017 and featured in season one of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table”—under the tutelage of visionary chef Dan Barber. Here she experimented with desserts made from unconventional ingredients, such as vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and fermented items.
When Matsuyama moved to Los Angeles in 2015, she served as a pastry cook at celebrated restaurants like Bestia and Ink. But her proudest moment came with the opening of her Pico House food truck, which featured market-driven whole grain bowls, and Heavy Cream, her wholesale pastry business that collaborated with the likes of Stumptown Coffee, Netflix, Tsubaki LA, Chefs Feed, and others. She closed both concepts in December of 2017 to take on her next journey, n/naka. Outside of her pastry work in n/naka’s kitchen, the natural creative writes and draws children’s books and explores Japan, Italy, and France through its desserts.
Space is limited, register here.
*Participants must be 18 or older to join this workshop.