Japanese Iron Chef Sakai at BEEF Week Rockhampton – May 2024

AJS-Queensland Committee members Andrew Hay and Julie Yamamoto travelled to Rockhampton (in their respective professional capacities) in early May to participate in BEEF Week 2024, the largest beef industry event in the southern hemisphere.

BEEF Week is held every three years and is a mega event celebrating the beef industry, bringing together the people that work directly in the sector and the general public. The event also attracts a large contingent of international delegates including from Japan.


Japan is one of Queensland’s most valued customers for its premium beef. Investment by Japanese companies over decades has helped to grow the industry in Queensland. Japan is the second largest importer of Australian beef, with the USA currently number one and China and South Korea number three and four, respectively.
The ties between Queensland and Japan were celebrated at BEEF Week with the appearance of the legendary Japanese Iron Chef, Hiroyuki Sakai. Iron Chef Sakai, as a celebrity chef at BEEF Australia, cooked up a storm for over 200 guests at dinner.

Julie and Andrew were extra lucky to run into the Iron Chef as he was concluding a public cooking demonstration. Despite his very busy schedule, Iron Chef Sakai took time to speak with Julie and Andrew – he conveyed his passion for premium Queensland produce and his strong ties to Queensland and Australia. His knowledge of Queensland and its primary produce was outstanding and demonstrates his commitment to sourcing the world’s best produce to showcase in his menus in Japan.

In anticipation that he might meet the Iron Chef, Andrew was carrying a golf cap personally signed by the Australian golfer Adam Scott. (Andrew is the Chair of the Adam Scott Foundation.) The Iron Chef was delighted to receive the gesture and informed Andrew that golf is one of his greatest passions – so kudos to Andrew for preparing the perfect gift! At 82 years young, Iron Chef Sakai has a golf handicap of 12. Iron Chef Sakai also mentioned he is a keen scuba diver.

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