Tamao Sako: British Baking in Japan

Feb. 16, 2017

British Cake Pastry Chef and author, Tamao Sako, won the title Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2016 British Business Awards last November 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. The BCCJ interviewed Tamao to learn the secrets behind her success.

BCCJ: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and The British Pudding?
After living in the UK for 10 years with my family, we returned to Osaka at the end of 2012. This was when I started up the British cake school "The British Pudding". In 2014, I worked for the NHK drama Massan as a cooking consultant for Scottish cuisine and cakes. In 2016, one of the books I have written, British Home Cooking, won the Grand Prix of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2016.

I also give British cake-baking lessons at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, Isetan and to many other customers. My aim is to introduce authentic British cakes to Japanese bakers using local ingredients and to explain the historical background of the British baking tradition. Class participants also learn about the cakes currently popular in the UK and the stories behind them. I offer basic and advanced classes and have attendees from all over Japan.
I have published a total of five books:
England Tea Room Walk 
Tea Time British Cakes 
Biscuits and Scones 
British Cake Stories (3rd prize, Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2016, pastry category) 
British Home Cooking  (Grand Prix, Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2016,  foreign cuisine category) 

Tea Time British Cakes and British Cake Stories have been translated into local languages and published in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea.

BCCJ: What does winning a British Business Award (BBA) mean to you?
I am  such a splendid award. I like to show my gratitude to all the people who worked for BBA and, of course, who chose me to the award. I am very proud of this honorable award.   But I know  I couldn't  take BBA with myself, but with lots of support from people around me. I think this BBA was awarded to all those people. 
Through this award, I am happy that I could become acquainted with many people who have been actively working both in Japan and the UK. Moreover, I am glad that the British cakes and cuisines are highlighted with this occasion. It encourages me to promote the good taste of British cakes and cuisines ! There are many more British cuisines and cakes with which we are not yet familiar in Japan. I believe that BBA can give me the power to help introduce such unknown cuisines and cakes in Japan. Thank you very much. 

BCCJ: How do you think winning a BBA will impact your business? 
Tamao: I am so grateful to have received such an award! To me it feels like an official endorsement for my promotion of authentic British food culture in Japan. To have that seal of approval has had a priceless impact on my business. Introducing "Tasty Britain" to Japan hasn't always been easy, but the BBA has resulted in a real boost. I still have lots of things to learn!   

BCCJ: Would you encourage companies to get involved with the BBA and why? 
Tamao: At the BBA, there are people from such a diverse range of industries all relating to the UK. We can learn so much from them. I hope that the Japanese who work in UK business realise the great contribution the British Business Awards make to UK-Japan business relationships and I'm delighted to see the bridges being built by the BCCJ.

BCCJ: Did you enjoy the party and ceremony, and how did collecting your award from the ambassador in person feel?
Tamao: It was one of my most glorious moments since starting my business when I received the trophy from the ambassador on the BBA stage! As I love UK, I have worked very hard to raise awareness of good British food. I am so glad that my work was appreciated by the country I love. It made me want to work even harder to promote British cuisine and cakes in Japan. I enjoyed the BBA party very much and it was a great pleasure to meet many people I would otherwise never have had the chance to meet.


Read more about the British Business Awards and the benefits of nomination HERE

Learn more about British Pudding HERE