Consulate-General of Japan in Houston



February 25, 2012

Houston Bento Contest 2012: Final Battle

On Saturday, February 25, 2012 the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston held the Houston Bento Contest 2012: Final Battle at Rice Epicurean, Briargrove.  The event was sponsored by The Epicurean Cooking School and Satake USA, Inc.
Bento is a Japanese form of boxed lunch that is typically a well-balanced meal with rice, fish or meat that has great appeal to lovers of food and Japanese culture.  Bento box culture itself has a strong following both in Japan and here in America. 
The Consulate’s call for submissions which required a picture of the contestant’s homemade bento, and a picture of the contestant holding their creation, was met with great enthusiasm.  With so many fabulous submissions, it was very difficult to choose the six finalists who competed in the Final Battle for the title of Bento-Box Champion.

Winners of preliminary categories:
Masao Oida: Most Delicious
Devon Francis: Most Creative
Yunn-Hwa Tyan: Most Healthy
Kenny Porter: Most Traditional
Derek Yeung: Most Comical
Chef Brent Scharbor: Deputy’s choice

Links to submissions (honorable mentions and the six finalists)

The six finalists were given 10 minutes to create a bento with an assortment of Rice Epicurean food that was set up at work stations.  The finalists could bring tools from home, but could only use the supplies to put in the bento that were provided.   Junjiro Naoki, President  & CEO of Satake USA, Inc., Sarah Augustine, Director of Epicurean Cooking School, Shree Kurelekar, Executive Director of Japan-America Society of Houston, Jessica Parker, JETAA Vice-President and Ayako Koide, Vice-Consul of Cultural Affairs were set with the difficult task of judging the six bentos.  While all of the finalists put together impressive bentos, in the end Derek Yeung won the hearts of the judges with his creativity and cute creation and was declared Bento-Box champion.

In addition to the Final Battle, Mrs. Masae Inagaki shared her bento-making wisdom with attendees.  Her short informative lecture highlighted the basics, including food safety and balance of color.  Mrs. Inagaki, who was assisted by the translator Mrs. Yuko Yamada, even shared some of her secrets for creating heart shaped eggs and bunny rabbit apple slices.  Following the lecture attendees got to try their hand at making an onigiri, or rice ball, something that is often a staple of a bento lunch.  Participants increased their understanding of the safety of Japanese food and the variety of Japanese cooking through this event.


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(from left)Mr. Oida, Mr. Porter, Chef Scharbor


(from left)Chef Scharbor, Judge Ms. Parker, Mr.Francis, Mr. Yeung, and Ms. Tyan


Finalists' creations


Lecturer Mrs. Masae Inagaki