It’s no secret that the Japanese have a love for Prince Edward Island and Anne of Green Gables.

But a series of other “ingredients” brought the Japanese trade commissioner, a camera crew and a famous chef in to the east coast.

A Japanese chef and restaurateur, Katsuhiro Oki, who has been cooking with Canadian ingredients for more than 10 years, had a strong desire to visit Canada’s East Coast and seek out new ingredients, perhaps create a new Canadian recipe, and tape two shows for his highly regarded cooking show in Japan.

With the help of the Japanese trade commissioner (to Canada), Koji Fujii, the Canadian government trade offices (in Japan) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a group was brought to PEI in the month of June. This included staff from RBK TV station in Fukouka, Japan.

While here they were able to visit PEI farms as well as restaurants and the Green Gables House in Cavendish. The trade commissioner accompanied chef Katsuhiro and his wife, Ayako, along with a soundman, cameraman, two directors, a video engineer and a reporter. First to receive the enthusiastic group was the potato farm of Gerrit Visser and Sons in Orwell Cove. Here the Japanese entourage toured the farm and packing plant. PEI Mussel King was another stop, where they were able to take a boat trip to see mussels being harvested. Filming continued on the organic farm of Raymond Loo (Springwillow Organic Farm in Springfield) and Loo was able to provide organic potatoes and other organic vegetables for the chef to cook with at the Day Boat Restaurant in Rustico. The crew filmed at PEI Preserves in New Glasgow and Blue Winds Tea Room, New London.

“We were taping an Anne of Green Gables show and a show about PEI food,” said the trade commissioner.

He said chef Katsuhiro Oki has been using Canadian ingredients for more than ten years, but this was his first time to visit PEI, and in fact, Canada. The trade commissioner says the Japanese chef has used some PEI mussels, French fries and potato chips in the past.

The chef’s main interest was potatoes, mussels, organic produce, jams and other food products that might be unique to PEI. “It was important for the TV crew to see the actual sites and grower’s faces behind Canadian food products,” says Diane Farquharson.

Farquharson, marketing and trade officer with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown, said time will tell if there are spinoffs from the shows shot on PEI. “They’ll be seen by at least 10 million people in Japan,” she said and adds, “One food segment and one tourism segment with Anne footage will be shown.”

She pointed out that the chef was able to cook lobster from Ocean Choice, which was either fresh frozen or live and he cooked the mussels as well. PEI was chosen because of its production of a wide variety of food products in such a relatively small area.