Professor Robert Goree Appeared as a Guest Judge on the Japanese Game Show Sushi Time

February 25, 2015
Robert Goree in his office with the Sushi Time crew

Wellesley faculty members are called upon to share their expertise in all kinds of ways and in all kinds of venues. Robert Goree, assistant professor of East Asian languages and cultures, recently took his knowledge and expertise to a judging chair on the Japanese game show Sushi Time.

Goree compares Sushi Time to the popular Food Network show Iron Chef America. The episode pitted American Chef Tim Cushman of o ya restaurant in Boston against Tokyo-based Chef Iwa-san. “The two chefs' styles of sushi were so different,” Goree said. “The Japanese chef...made understated minimalistic sushi in an orthodox way, while [the American chef], made very creative sushi.”

There were five judges but Goree ended up with the deciding vote. He said choosing how to cast his vote was difficult. “It was like comparing apples and oranges," Goree said. "Or, better yet, like comparing simple but virtuosically prepared tuna nigiri to flamboyant fried Kumamoto oyster-nigiri topped with a truffle oil infused sea-urchin paste.”

Ultimately, he cast his vote in favor of the Japanese chef. “The Japanese celebrities commenting on the contest were very happy about my vote. They seemed to think I had really understood what sushi was all about,” Goree said. “I'd like to think so too, but I could have easily voted for the creative American sushi. Like I said, apples and oranges, but delicious apples and oranges.”

One of Goree’s takeaways from his participation in the show might lead to a course offering in the future: he said preparing for appearance on the show inspired him to start thinking about offering a course exploring Japanese culture through it’s food. You won’t find that class in next year’s catalog just yet, but you can find these other courses Goree is teaching: “Haiku to Hello Kitty: Japanese Pop Culture,” “Gateways to East Asia” (co-taught with Sarah Allen, assistant professor of Chinese) and “Creativity and the Institutional Talent: Reading and Writing Global Short-Form Nonfiction” (co-taught with James Wallenstein, Newhouse Visiting Professor of Creative Writing).

Another takeaway Goree noted was the amazing culinary experience. “I've never eaten so well, even if it took place in front of cameras and bright lights,” Goree said. 

The episode, which was filmed in Boston this fall and included some footage from campus, aired on Japanese television on New Years Day. It is available on YouTube, but does not have English subtitles.