Last night brought the premiere of a new short film about Kikkoman soy sauce to New York’s Tribeca Cinemas, with a special appearance by the Iron Chef himself, Masaharu Morimoto.
Morimoto joined Masanao Shimada, president of Kikkoman USA, and director Lucy Walker (whose The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom was nominated for an Oscar last year) on stage before the film for a traditional sake ceremony. "When you see that bottle, you don’t know anything about it," said Walker. "To learn that it was founded by a woman, and to learn how soy sauce is made and see the meticulous care and history, it blew my mind."
The film, which will be available for viewing at KikkomanUSA.com beginning Dec. 23 (a trailer is currently available there), traces Kikkoman’s roots back more than 300 years, through 19 generations, and to Wisconsin in 1973, where the company established the first Japanese-owned factory in the U.S. Through interviews with employees, we learn the factory has never laid anyone off in its entire history (wages are reduced across the board instead), and that it’s pollution-free: the leftover soy becomes animal feed, and the oil that remains is used to power the machines. We also meet the designer of their famed water-drop-shaped bottle, and learn that for many years the fermentation process was a mystery, even for those who produced it!
After the film, chef Morimoto took to the demo stage, where he broke down a 100-pound tuna in less than 15 minutes before a mesmerized crowd. Alongside him an assistant made soba noodles from scratch. Those were then combined with soy sauce and mountain yam into a dish that was shared with those in attendance.
For those with even a passing interest in Japanese cuisine, we’d recommend taking the 24 minutes to watch the film when it becomes available.