2016 BBA Winner Profile: Entrepreneur of the Year - Tamao Sako

Nov. 24, 2016


Ninth annual British Business Awards (BBA) ceremony held on November 11 2016 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo | Tamao Sako named Entrepreneur of the Year

The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) is delighted to announce Tamao Sako as the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Ms. Sako was recognised for her success as a Japanese expert on British baking and cuisine; her popular classes, blogs, TV show, and UK tours; and for receiving this year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Grand Prix prize for her British cook book.

Tamao Sako's story is like a fairytale. With guts, vision and sincerity she studied a hobby and turned it into a thriving business. Fascinated by a lifestyle of elevenses and afternoon cuppas, Tamao delved deep into a culture of dunking biscuits and cream teas to become hooked on British baking and cuisine.

She gained such a reputation that NHK asked her to be food consultant for the much-acclaimed Massan TV drama about Japan's first whisky makers. Many Japanese people have since become interested in Scotland and its culture, and food and drink­ sales, for instance Scotch whisky, increased in Japan.

Before that came Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi, which launched 'Tamao Sako's British Cake Class," its first-ever 12-month cookery course. Tamao also takes Japanese fans of British baking to visit historic UK places that relate to their favourite cakes and foods.

Tamao authored two books that still sell well today: "British Cake Stories" (Mynavi Publishing) and "Biscuits and Scones" (Kodansha). Her previous books include "England Tearoom Visit," "British Home Cooking" (for which she won the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Award), and "British Tea Time Cakes". British Pudding classes in Osaka drew over 200 students from as far away as Hokkaido and Kyushu and have sold out for the past year. Mitsukoshi classes are always full. Soon after reservations open, most classes are instantly booked.

Tamao also reports much interest among Japanese people in her fusion food: she teaches how to make British cuisine and cakes using Japanese ingredients and traditional recipes taught to her by pensioners in her old neighbourhood in Reading, Bershire,where she lived for 10 years.

Tamao has carved a niche in Japan by introducing classic British tastes to a nation otherwise quite sceptical of UK cooking. Despite obstacles like the difficulty of finding lamb in Japan, Tamao has promoted British cuisine to an awe-struck audience that had never before seen such rich and sweet desserts; hearty and chunky stews; juicy roast joints with all the seasonal trimmings, and much more.

She soon learned that British people are happy to teach anyone who really wants to learn their craft. And she wants to help share that knowledge in Japan. Tamao is currently writing a recipe book about those farms of fine ingredients to find more tasty food to introduce to her hungry audience.

Three of her books have been digitally published, boosting readership and her reputation in northeast Asia. Tamao sees digital media as major sources of sustaining and boosting interest in British food. All ingredients she recommends are available online, and to keep her profile fresh and visible, she has created a dynamic homepage full of useful information, interesting anecdotes, and stunning images of her tasty dishes: www.britishpudding.com.

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