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Story of a Japanese chef in love with Panettone

From Kyoto to Costabissara to learn the secrets of Panettone-making. When she finally meets Dario Loison, she hands him all the Panettone monographic booklets that she has been cherishing for 10 years

Her name is Yori Arakawa. She’s been in love with Italy since the 1980s, when she came to the country to study creative textile design in Como. Her passion for Italian art and cooking began then, to include bread and leavened cake baking.

 

In a country like Japan, where the most traditional desserts are basically made from agar agar or from glutinous (sticky) rice - elements that give the dessert a chewy and pliable texture - the metamorphosis of the leavening process definitely captured Yori’s attention. It was then that she decided to further study Italian cuisine and to work at some Italian restaurants.

 

One day in 2007, Yori Arakawa discovered Loison Panettone and immediately fell in love with it. After her return to Kyoto, she began working at local restaurants and tried her hand at making Panettone. She tried again and again for years, until she decided to go back to Italy and learn more about the secrets of leavening. Where did she end up? In the town of Costabissara, in the province of Vicenza, in the small workshop that Loison runs.

 

In July of this year, Yori wrote an email to Dario Loison, in Italian, conveying reverence, modesty and a lot of love for Italy. She wished to visit Loison’s workshop and the Panettone museum. A few weeks later, Yori Arakawa set foot in Loison, and the first thing she did was to give Dario all the Loison Panettone monographic booklets that she had been preciously holding on to for ten years, as a testament to her passion for bread baking and for Panettone. This gesture had Dario Loison scrambling for words, because he knew very well that the Japanese people do not like expressing their feelings openly.

 

Yori Arakawa was taken on a tour of the artisan workshop to learn more about what is behind the leavening process. When she stepped into the quaint Panettone museum, she fell speechless as she became completely intrigued with the vintage items on display, the harmony of the packaging and the fragrances of the Panettone and spices around her.

 

Upon her return to Kyoto, Japan, still taken by the world of Loison Panettone, Yori promptly sent Dario another email to reaffirm her unselfish affection: "I learned so many secrets of Panettone-making, but I realize that it’s from your loving heart that your excellent Panettone comes".

 

When Japan calls, Loison answers.

 

 

Giulia Marruccelli

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