The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Auckland restaurant manager achieves NZ’s first international qualification in saké

Fuminobu (Fumi) Nakatani.

Fuminobu (Fumi) Nakatani is believed to be the first and only New Zealand professional to be awarded an international qualification in saké from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

The manager of award-winning Japanese robata restaurant and bar, MASU by Nic Watt, at SKYCITY Auckland has recently achieved the WSET’s Level 3 Award in Saké.

The 43-year-old achieved the advanced level qualification with a distinction pass rate and plans to use his new qualification to continue to build awareness and excitement of saké culture and saké in NZ.

The WSET is one of the most prestigious global educators in the alcohol beverage market. WSET qualifications are recognised as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge. Nakatani undertook his course through speciality outlet Prince Wine Store in Melbourne.

During the four-day course Nakatani learned how to make the Japanese rice wine and the methods that affect the style, quality and price of sake. The course also teaches participants how to assess sakés accurately and to use this information to make authoritative recommendations to diners.

Nakatani feels he almost has a responsibility for spreading the word about the culture surrounding the famed beverage.

“Building and sharing the knowledge about saké is a goal I share with Nic-san and the team at MASU. We are already starting to see an interest in sake which is why MASU celebrated ‘sake month’ in honour of the beverage in October 2016,” he says.

Chef restaurateur Nic Watt says everyone at the restaurant is incredibly proud of Nakatani’s achievement.

“We are certainly honoured to have among our team the first and only WSET certified saké professional in New Zealand, especially one who has graduated with distinction,” Watt says. “It’s testament to his commitment to MASU and furthering the knowledge and awareness of Japanese culture in Auckland’s dining community.”