Sundays, 9.00 – 9.54 p.m. from 26 April 2015
It is New Year’s Day in 1904 (Meiji 37). The Akiyamas of Fukui Prefecture, led by the father, Shuzo, are filled with hope. The eldest son, Shutaro, who has his sights set on becoming a lawyer, has returned home. His only worry is his 16-year-old second son, Tokuzo. Shuzo’s anxiety proves right. Tokuzo is expelled by the temple where he was training to be a monk. Amidst the new year celebrations, Tokuzo is carried into the house in an unconscious state. The Akiyamas fret that he maybe dead, but according to the monk who brought him over, he had debased a monk’s grave in a graveyard while drunk on alcohol. Concerned about the future of his son who gives up on whatever he does easily, Shuzo arranges for Tokuzo to be taken into the Takahamas of Sabae who run Matsumaeya, a kelp wholesale business. Tokuzo thus begins a new life as the husband of the family’s eldest daughter, Toshiko. It is surprisingly easy for him to get accustomed to the job of a kelp wholesaler. Tokuzo is able to distinguish the kelp from different places of origin with his keen sense of smell, and even Toshiko’s father, Kinnosuke who is the owner of the business, gives Tokuzo due respect. Tokuzo gradually fits into the Takahamas, and a smile event appears on Toshiko’s face. Then one day, Tokuzo’s interest is aroused by an indescribable smell wafting out from the kitchen while out on a delivery to the Sabae regiment. In the kitchen, Sergeant Tanabe Yukichi, who has been preparing ingredients that Tokuzo has never seen before, is about to cook meat, which is not part of the dietary habits of the prefecture. Unable to suppress his excitement, Tokuzo continues to watch Tanabe’s cooking with great interest. With some encouragement from Tanabe, he takes a bite of the freshly-fried cutlet and is jolted in a way he has never experienced since he was born. This is the moment that changes Tokuzo’s life. After that day, he starts to lie about making sales pitches, and takes lessons in cooking from Tanabe at the Sabae regiment. He does not grow tired of the food, which he has never seen and eaten, and feels happiness for the first time in his life. This motivates him to have the impossible dream of becoming a chef of Western cuisine. In order to achieve this dream, Tokuzo goes to Tokyo to get a fresh start. He has to face numerous challenges which fuel his growth. He travels to Paris in France for training, which is rare for a Japanese in those times. Battling discrimination and prejudice, he becomes the chef of the grand Hotel Ritz, and eventually takes charge of the Emperor’s kitchen as the chief steward of the Imperial Household Department at the young age of 26. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, he struggles to find out what he can do for his country and mounts diplomacy with food.
Sato Takeru as Akiyama Tokuzo
The second son of the Akiyama family. A rascal who has brimmed with curiosity from his earliest childhood. Once he gets angry, he will get out of hand. A hot-tempered person, he can be a good-for-nothing when he does not have the mood. However, he displays amazing powers of concentration when he does. And he strangely has a good nose. His parents fret about him because he cannot keep at whatever he is doing for long and settle down. Wondering if he will do so once he has a wife, they jump at the opening for a son-in-law of the owner of Matsumaeya, a seafood wholesale business and marry him off. But one day, he encounters the cutlet at the Sabae regiment and his life is utterly transformed. He leaves his bride behind and goes to Tokyo alone. He receives his older brother’s help in Tokyo and starts to work as an apprentice cook at the Peerage Hall, taking his first step as a chef.
Suzuki Ryohei as Akiyama Shutaro
The eldest son of the Akiyama family. Expected to be a prodigy from his earliest childhood, his excellence made his father, Shuzo, decide that it would be a waste for him to be in the remote countryside. A fortune was spent so that he could get into a Tokyo university. He dreams of being a lawyer and his creed is “I won’t know if I don’t give it a try.” He recognises that his younger brother’s curiosity is his sole “potential”. He has a mild-mannered and kind personality. He falls ill without fulfilling his ambition and this regret becomes a motivating force that spurs Tokuzo on to greater heights.
Kuroki Haru as Takahama Toshiko
The eldest daughter of the owner of Matsumaeya, a seafood wholesale business. Because her siblings are all female, a son-in-law has to be taken into the family, and of all things, she finds herself having to marry Akiyama Tokuzo at the age of 16. She is the type who is not overly sociable and affable. But in truth, she listens closely, is hardworking, does not chatter pointlessly and is quick with her hands rather than her mouth. Tokuzo gradually starts to admire these virtues. She gets thrown out one month into their marriage.
Ito Hideaki as Tanabe Yukichi
A soldier who belongs to the Sabae regiment and a former cook. He now has charge of the regiment’s kitchen. A striking, nice guy. He generously feeds Akiyama Tokuzo, who occasionally comes and is a stranger to him, cutlet. The taste of this cutlet leaves a strong impression on Tokuzo and fuels his dream to become a chef. He is Tokuzo’s very first teacher who taught him the fundamentals of food preparation without reserve.
Kiritani Kenta as Matsui Shintaro
An apprentice cook at the Peerage Hall. Akiyama Tokuzo’s senior and fellow apprentice. He is irresponsible, lacks motivation and survives only on knowing how to swim with the tide. He possesses a skill for setting circumstances aside and getting down and apologising when he thinks he is getting yelled at. He actually does not want to be a cook. In fact, he is the son of a prostitute who gave birth in the red-light district and frequently goes in and out of Yoshiwara to see his childhood friend, Chino, who is a prostitute.
Emoto Tasuku as Yamagami Tatsuyoshi
An apprentice cook at the Peerage Hall. Akiyama Tokuzo’s senior and fellow apprentice. He is the assistant of the person in charge of vegetables. His way of life is the exact opposite of Matsui Shintaro. He is bad at dealing with things and too serious. A guy who thinks of surviving this path one way or another. He is exceedingly kind in guiding Tokuzo, the newcomer.
Takeda Tetsuya as Kirizuka Shogo
Akiyama Shutaro’s academic supervisor. A lawyer. During the Meiji era, he was the first to recognise the need for law and took up teaching. A gentleman who is extremely good-natured and soft-spoken. A legal adviser of the Peerage Hall, he introduces Akiyama Tokuzo to a position in the Peerage Hall’s kitchen. He develops an interest in Tokuzo’s ambition to be a chef in an era where chefs are poorly regarded, and starts to watch over him.
Kobayashi Kaoru as Usami Kaneichi
The master chef at the Peerage Hall, Akiyama Tokuzo’s first workplace. He is the first person to notice Tokuzo’s talent as a chef. His skills, which were honed with foreign chefs, are second to none, but unless he wears the chef’s hat, his appearance is that of a boss of a gambling room. However, he is very high strung. His cooking is delicate and lovely, and he even demands this delicacy of his subordinates. If they cannot meet the level he demands, he would readily punish them with his fists. He believes cooking is about sincerity and does not cut any corners for any cuisine. He is a man who is never inconsistent. He is Tokuzo’s teacher in life.
Kato Masaya as Ioki Takeshiro
The chef of the British High Commission. He becomes acquainted with Akiyama Tokuzo in an unexpected turn of events and teaches him to cook in secret. A man of gentle manners. Because he is a different type of cook from Usami, his approach is different and is in fact logical and easy to understand.
Sugimoto Tetta as Akiyama Shuzo
Akiyama Tokuzo’s father. Born the son of a landowner, he is a person who has followed this path with caution and untiring efforts. Although he is a man of few words and also rarely expresses his views, he gets out of control when he loses his temper. Tokuzo’s quick temper comes from his father.
Morishita Yoshiko (Gochisousan, Tonbi, Jin Series)
Tenno no Ryoriban by Sugimori Hisahide
#1: The Impossible Culinary Dream that a Good-For-Nothing Guy Saw 100 Years Ago
#2: Cooking is Sincerity
#3: A Decision of Love
#4: I Love You, Farewell
#5: The End of a Young Couple
#6: Paris, the Farthest Reaches of Love and Life
#7: Paris and Discrimination and Marriage
#8: Graduation Ceremony in Paris
#9: Crayfish and The Coronation Ceremony
#10: The Great Kanto Earthquake and A Family’s Decision
#11: The Last Dinner with A Loved One
#12: The Miracle of Love that a Cook Defeated in War Performed for GHQ
Click here for photos from the press conference.
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