The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores St. Pierres Sushi
Focused on developing new menus that use Japanese-made food ingredients
Auckland / New Zealand
In 35 years, St.Pierres has established sushi as lunch for NZ citizens
New Zealand is a young country that has been 180 years since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British monarch and the indigenous Maori chief to unite the country. It still accepts immigrants from countries around the world.
Nick Katsuoulis of St.Pierres, who we introduce here, also immigrated from Greece with his parents.
It was in 1984 that he inherited the fishmonger started by his parents in the capital city Wellington, and this year marks the 35th anniversary of that event. He changed the fishmonger into a new store to be known as a seafood delicatessen, turning it into a store that stocked an increasing variety of seafood and processed food products. During this time, the store sold sushi and it became a big hit, and now, throughout the country, people can be seen waiting in line in front of St.Pierres Sushi’s yellow signs.
Conquest of all New Zealand with sushi
Nick is always aiming to increase the number of items available. After trying various food ingredients, he awoke to the appeal of ingredients from Japan. In a country where there was formerly no custom of eating raw fish, makizushi (rolled sushi) and nigirizushi have become completely accepted over the past 30 years. He currently operates 60 sushi stores throughout New Zealand, including conveyor belt sushi restaurants. In addition, the Donburi brand (rice bowl dishes) was launched around ten years ago, and this popular brand is sold at 23 stores, including some of the 60 sushi stores. There are more than 700 employees, but amid fierce daily competition, each store maintains a constant level of quality by using manual production methods. The store chain sells a daily average of around 10,000 sushi packs that include norimaki (nori rolls) and nigirizushi.
Commitment to Japanese-made food ingredients
Because New Zealand is a nation of immigrants, a wide variety of processed food products are imported from around the world.
In such an environment, the outstanding excellence of Japanese-made food ingredients is easy to discover. Having awakened to the high quality and abundant variety of its food ingredients, and to its cooking ingredients suited to sushi, Nick often goes to Japan, and is always on the lookout for new ingredients and processed foods. His discoveries are not confined to ingredients; the local cabbage was hard, and because it was large it took a lot of time to shred, but during a walk around Tokyo he discovered a special cabbage shredder, which he immediately imported. It is reassuring that he insists firmly on Japanese-made food ingredients, and does not leap at cheap substitute imports. When talking to Nick—who is not good at Japanese—one hears a smooth flow of Japanese words. He is such a connoisseur of Japanese cuisine that words such as miso, gari (type of ginger pickle), shouga (ginger), dashi (soup stock), mayonêzu (mayonnaise), su (vinegar), ocha (tea), tsukemono (pickles), sôsu (sauce), shushizu (sushi vinegar), nori, and sake (chum salmon) blend naturally into his conversation. The current St.Pierres is the result of a continuing commitment to Japanese-made food ingredients.
The unlimited possibilities of Japanese-made food ingredients
The locally available food ingredients used by the chain include seafood such as salmon, pork, chicken, fruit and vegetables. There are typical blended Japanese/western dishes such as teriyaki chicken rice bowl, but Nick is eager to develop a new menu that uses Japanese-made food ingredients and locally obtainable ingredients, and there is a chef working exclusively on that development. The chain is using social media to decide what to have on the new menu, basing the decision on the number of likes received from its 30,000 followers. Nick, who is joint manager and founder with his brothers, is still young. He says he named the business after a John Dory that was in the store, the name of this fish in French being "St. Pierre." Nick, who is always active and quick to turn ideas into practice, declares that he will continue to offer new menus that use Japanese-made food ingredients to a large number of sushi fans.