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Who is the Japanese Chef from the Blue Zones Documentary?

by Christal Burnette 03 Apr 2024 0 Comments
Have you ever wondered about the fascinating intersection of traditional cuisine, modern nutrition, and preserving cultural heritage? Meet Yukie Miyaguni, a woman whose journey has led her to bridge these worlds in an inspiring way. As a certified International Traditional Chinese Medicine Dietitian and a recognized authority in Okinawan cuisine, she has been on a mission to not only spread the concept of medicinal cuisine but also safeguard the endangered heritage of Okinawan cuisine. She is featured in Dan Buettner's new Netflix documentary: Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones.
Haitai, my fellow moai'in. My name is Christal Burnette and I live and research in Okinawa, Japan. I also know Miyaguni-sensei personally. I have visited her many times to learn Okinawan recipes or just sit down and have an Okinawan snack. She is being featured in the new Netflix documentary so I thought it would be great to introduce you all to her. Below is the translation and editing of a Japanese interview I have of her.

A Culinary Crusader with a Purpose

"Tell me about your work," we asked Yukie. With a warm smile, she shared her role as an International Traditional Chinese Medicine Dietitian, focusing on promoting medicinal cuisine while tackling the challenge of dwindling culinary artisans in Okinawa. "Okinawan cuisine is at risk due to a decline in the number of cooks skilled in its preparation. I'm striving to preserve this treasure while also teaching medicinal cuisine as a part of my 'Yakuzen Ryuuka' program, which I founded in 2008."
Her classes attract a diverse range of students, from elementary school children to octogenarians, all eager to learn the art of medicinal cuisine. The program has helped many achieve their dreams, from qualifying as certified chefs to opening their own establishments.
A still from Christal Burnette's interview video of Yukie Miyaguni 
A still from Christal Burnette's interview video of Yukie Miyaguni

Unveiling the World of Medicinal Cuisine

"But wait," you might ask, "Isn't medicinal cuisine complex and distant?" Yukie is quick to dispel that notion. "Medicinal cuisine is all about the power of food. It's about harnessing ingredients' effects and combining them in a way that improves health and addresses concerns. From tomatoes packed with lycopene and vitamins to a myriad of other ingredients, the choices you make in cooking can significantly impact your well-being."
The scope of her teachings extends beyond nutritionists and chefs; models, actors, homemakers – all are captivated by the intriguing concept of food as medicine.
Before her journey into medicinal cuisine, Yukie was a nutritionist working in a hospital. Reflecting on those days, she says, "My job was demanding, but immensely fulfilling. Yet, I felt a calling to delve deeper into the relationship between food and health." This desire led her to chart her own course.
Yukie Miyaguni taught Christal how to make a black sesame seed paste covered pork recipe  
Yukie Miyaguni taught Christal how to make a black sesame seed paste covered pork recipe

A Passion Rooted in Youth

Curious about where this passion originated, we asked her when she became interested in food. "It began during my junior high school years," she replied. "My parents were often busy, and I spent much time outside. Food provided comfort – a sense of contentment – which I recognized even back then. This led me to consider a career in the food industry."
Yukie's journey led her to embrace Okinawan culinary traditions. She's certified as a "Ryukyu Cuisine Heritage Holder," a title bestowed upon those who strive to pass on the heritage of Ryukyu (Okinawan) cuisine to future generations. She is dedicated to ensuring the richness of Okinawan culinary traditions doesn't fade away.
With an air of determination, Yukie revealed her plans to take Okinawan cuisine to international heights. "Recently, I had an interview with American media, and I realized how little Okinawa is known abroad. We need to showcase the depth of Okinawan culinary heritage to the world. It's not just a part of Japanese cuisine; it's a unique treasure waiting to be explored."
To those following a similar culinary path, Yukie offers words of encouragement. "Becoming a nutritionist might seem like a demanding journey, but remember, it's incredibly rewarding. You'll find your qualifications useful in various fields, and the evolving food landscape offers exciting opportunities."

A Recipe for Life Balance

"Finding time to relax is essential," Yukie advised, sharing her personal method for recharging. "I enjoy sipping wine and listening to music. It sets the tone for my evenings, reminding me of the enjoyable moments that await."
As the conversation came to a close, Yukie imparted a heartfelt message to readers. "Work hard for what you love. Seek joy in your efforts, and remember, the journey is just as important as the destination."
With Yukie Miyaguni's vibrant spirit and dedication, she not only tantalizes our taste buds but also invites us to explore the intricate ties between food, health, and culture. Whether you're a nutrition enthusiast, a culinary adventurer, or simply someone seeking to savor life's flavors, her story resonates, urging us all to find our unique recipe for a fulfilling journey.
Profile: Yukie Miyaguni, Founder and Instructor of Yakuzen Ryuuka, Nutritionist, Expert in Ryukyu Medicinal Cuisine, Certified International Traditional Chinese Medicine Dietitian, Recognized Ryukyu Cuisine Heritage Holder by the Okinawa Prefectural Governor. From a background as a nutritionist at a comprehensive hospital, Yukie has pioneered in the culinary world with her Yakuzen Ryuuka program. Combining Okinawa's culinary heritage with traditional Chinese medicine, she's an advocate for the philosophy that food is medicine. With a deep-rooted passion for preserving Okinawan cuisine and promoting the concept of medicinal cuisine, she continues to make culinary magic.
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