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Feb. 14, 2012
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Japanese master chef dishes college classic

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Remember ramen noodles, the college-student fill-me-up that is easy to make and doesn’t break the bank? Slippery Rock University students, faculty and staff who feel like a drooping flower in need of water by mealtime will discover the full potential of ramen noodles when Japanese master chef Hiroko Shimbo cooks them on campus Feb. 21.
     Shimbo, an author, chef consultant for restaurants and authority on Japanese cooking, will demonstrate ramen noodle cooking at 11:30 a.m. in Boozel Dining Hall. She will host a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at 2 p.m. in Weisenfluh Hall.
      AVI Fresh, SRU’s contracted food vendor, is bringing Shimbo to campus to train SRU chefs in her cooking techniques. She is known for creating healthy entrees using locally available, fresh ingredients and for preparation prowess in the traditional Japanese kitchen and the “new” American kitchen, which combines western and eastern approaches.
      “Quality ramen, which has a wide variety in flavors, toppings, textures and serving temperatures, will be the next culinary star from the Japanese kitchen,” Shimbo said.
        While many college students eat “instant ramen,” Shimbo said she specializes in gourmet. “Gourmet ramen was finally introduced to America and quality ramen shops have been sprung up across the country since 2008.
       She said the full repertoire of ramen preparations is a fascinating, lengthy and complex. For instance, shoyu ramen includes simmered pork belly, soy sauce flavoring, grilled tomato, swiss chard, boiled egg, scallion and nori seaweed. Miso ramen includes shrimp, pork, grilled tomato, Swiss chard, corn, scallion, butter and nori seaweed.
         Dan Tokarek, SRU executive chef, said Shimbo would train chefs for five or six hours. She will provide advice on recipe development using Japanese cooking techniques, finding Japanese ingredients and paring Japanese beverages with western cuisine. 
        Tokarek said Shimbo sent an ingredients list for the demonstration that includes pork knuckles and other items unique to Japanese culture.
      For Tokarek, who grew up dreaming of becoming a chef while watching cooking shows on television, Shimbo’s visit is cause for celebration.
      “As much as people from the 1960s wanted to go to Woodstock, that’s what this is to me,” said Tokarek, a 2008 SRU criminal justice graduate. “I hope students come and see that AVI is bringing culture into our dining halls. They’ll actually be able to see a master chef. I know that we have a few students  watch the Food Network and History Channel who will be very interested in her demonstration.”
     Hiroko began her career in Tokyo by opening Hiroko’s Kitchen in 1989. In 1999, she moved to New York City.  She recently
created an authentic Japanese curry restaurant, Kare-ken, in San Francisco. She is a frequent chef guest at the World of Flavors Conference at the Culinary Institute of America and has authored “The Japanese Kitchen” and “The Sushi Experience.” Hiroko's third book is on its way.
     Hiroko travels in the U.S. and Europe as a guest instructor. She teaches cooking and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs. She has appeared on the Food Network, Roker on the Road and several PBS specials.
      Some of her specialties include Toyko-style chirashi-zushi, tender braised pork belly, braised miso lamb and lobster with mellow sweet miso sauce.
       Her visit corresponds with SRU’s increasing emphasis in offering international options. Weisenfluh Hall reopened last month with an all-new menu featuring Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, served from four food stations called “Elia,” “The Met,” “Umami” and “Horizons.”
     Diners order cooked-to-order signature burgers, ancho pork, red curry chicken, marinated vegetable skewers, Thai peanut shrimp or a signature burrito. The Umami station dishes sushi and other Asian delicacies. There are smoothies, hot and cold drinks, parfaits, breakfast sandwiches and mixed green salads – all of it available to go.
     “Right now we have more people interested in traditional-style international cooking and things such as sushi houses where they actually see someone rolling the sushi,” Tokarek said. “We’re not just pulling something out of a bag and heating it up. This is the ultimate ‘from scratch’ method.”

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.