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Jamie Oliver spends day with Welsh sushi firm

31 October 2011

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has spent a day with a pioneering company that makes sushi in the South Wales valleys

Kai and Jo Chan run Sushi Day shop in Abercynon, which also delivers sushi to office workers in Cardiff. Oliver was particularly interested in the couple’s trademarked ‘Swshi', an East meets West range of sushi incorporating traditional Welsh ingredients, lamb, leeks and laverbread.

The Chans had hoped to feature in the popular chef’s new series, Jamie's Great Britain, but sadly, due to the number of interesting food stories that were filmed in South Wales, Sushi Day did not make the final cut. The programme will be broadcast by Channel 4 on November 22 at 9pm.

The six-programme series sees Oliver travelling across the country exploring the stories behind quintessentially British ingredients and dishes and celebrating the social history of Britain told through its food.

“It was a big surprise when Jamie Oliver turned up for filming and he’s such a nice man, exactly as you see him on television,” said Kai, 46. “I would love to make my own online show and become the Jamie Oliver for sushi.”

A Cardiff University computing graduate, Kai spent time working in Hong Kong for a satellite television company before returning to the South Wales valleys where his parents and siblings run a chain of take away restaurants.

Looking to make his mark, he opted to launch Sushi Day in 2007 and now has a band of regular customers as well as supplying sushi to many of the universities and hospitals across South Wales.

He and his wife employ six part-time staff in the company, which delivers sushi orders to offices and businesses in Cardiff every Friday. Orders are accepted online at www.sushiday.co.uk and Kai also runs two-hour courses for people wishing to learn how to make sushi.

Future plans include opening a sushi shop in Cardiff, securing contracts to supply supermarkets and creating his own online sushi channel to deliver lessons.

“When I came back to Wales I wanted to do something different that no-one else was doing and saw the opportunity to become a sushi pioneer,” explained Kai. “Sushi bars and restaurants were already established in London but not in this part of the country and I wanted to bring it to Wales.

“I come from a cultural background where we are very picky about food. It has to be fresh and healthy and I insist on quality ingredients, production and presentation. I have found Welsh people very accessible and have had lots of praise about my sushi being fresh, tasty and colourful.”

He has blended traditional Welsh ingredients into ‘Swshi' by using slowly roasted Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef and is now thinking about adding Welsh cockles and sewin to his portfolio. His menu caters for vegetarians as well as fish and meat eaters.

Sushi Day has worked with the University of Glamorgan to develop the business and is currently receiving marketing advice from the Wales the True Taste Mentoring programme supported by the Welsh Government and delivered by Menter a Busnes. The programme is designed to help Welsh speciality food and drink businesses develop the UK market.


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