With over 5000 Italian restaurants, Tokyo confirms itself as the capital of tricolor cuisine in the world. Nearly 5% of the establishments serve Italian dishes (Source: Ambrosetti Study), with a significant rise in recent years, driven also by iconic recipes such as Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Amatriciana. There’s a growing demand for Made in Italy products in the Land of the Rising Sun (+18.8%). Notably, cheeses are experiencing a particularly positive performance: Italy ranks fifth among exporters, with a 33% growth in exports valued at around 13.7 billion yen, approximately 90 million euros (Source: ICE, 2022 data). Specifically, Cacio e Pepe and its main ingredient, Pecorino Romano DOP, took the stage on March 6th in Tokyo – among other excellent Italian agri-food products – for the easternmost stop of Aftershow, our format promoting Italian agri-food worldwide.

During FoodEx, the most important food fair for Southeast Asia, the Italian Embassy hosted an event dedicated to tasting and networking. Professionals from the sector, press, and local institutions had the opportunity to meet 100% Italian supply chain producers, taste products, learn about their origins and characteristics, and celebrate Made in Italy. Among the institutional figures present were Gianluigi Benedetti (Italian Ambassador to Tokyo) and Gianpaolo Bruno (Director of ICE Office in Tokyo). Among the guests were some of the top Italian chefs in Tokyo: Luca Fantin (Luca Fantin at the Bulgari Restaurant), Carmine Amarante (Executive Chef of the Armani Restaurant Japan Group), Peppe Errichiello (one of Japan’s top pizza makers, fresh from third place in the top 50 Asia). Also, influencers like Francesco Bellissimo (TV personality and chef) and Italian wine experts sommeliers such as Shigeru Hayashi and Akira Mizuguchi attended. Giorgio Matera, patron of “Di Giorgio” and the first non-Japanese to organize catering in the Emperor’s palace, signed the evening’s menu.

“Initiatives like tonight’s, which complement the constant work of the entire Italian System in Japan within the framework of so-called growth diplomacy, provide a valuable additional contribution to the smooth running of our trade balance: this year too, our agri-food exports to Japan exceeded one billion euros and reaffirmed Italy’s position on the podium as one of this country’s top trading partners,” said Ambassador Benedetti during the evening. “I cannot fail to mention the role of over 20,000 Italian restaurateurs in Japan, true Ambassadors of our beloved cuisine, which is now a candidate to become part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.”

Presented on this occasion in Japan was also the “Academy of Italian Enogastronomic Culture”, realized by Filiera Italia, Coldiretti, and Fondazione Campagna Amica, in partnership with I Love Italian Food, Patronized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“We are excited about the affection and interest shown by our Japanese network. This initiative – stated Alessandro Schiatti, CEO of I Love Italian Food – represents another step forward in strengthening the ties between Italian culinary excellences and the Japanese market and once again demonstrates how Italy is admired and appreciated worldwide for its extraordinary cuisine. This Aftershow and collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Tokyo confirm our commitment to promoting authentic Italian enogastronomic culture worldwide, which will also bring us to the Land of the Rising Sun next November for the new edition of The Italian Show, for the first time in Japan.”

Among the event’s partners were the Prosecco DOC Protection Consortium, official bubbles of the evening, Latteria Sorrentina, Rustichella d’Abruzzo, Solania, Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino, Filiera Italia, Mulino Caputo, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and featured in the pizza area with master pizza maker Simone Fortunato, along with the team of Neapolitan Pizza Makers Association in Japan. Also, the inevitable Consortium of Pecorino Romano DOP was present with a DOP promotion project co-financed by the European Union within the campaign “Enjoy it’s from Europe.” “Kyoi,” meaning wonder, is the title of the project, in the name of the sensation experienced when tasting Pecorino Romano, a pleasant surprise for the palate. Also, fundamental was the contribution of local partners Sivans and Italianity, a web magazine promoting Made in Italy in Japan.

A unique opportunity to celebrate Made in Italy, which anticipates the next Japanese project of I Love Italian Food: The Italian Show’s stop in Tokyo next November.