Despite a successful career as a fashion designer in Tokyo, with a sake sommelier certification in hand, Chizuko Niikawa-Helton embarked upon a life in sake in New York City. Working from the ground up, her aptitude for sales and popularity with customers helped her to become New York’s top female sake sommelier. In 2008, focused on developing independent sake events and sake sales techniques designed to make sake more fun, delicious and smart, she founded her own consulting company, Sake Discoveries, LLC. Focused on increasing sake fans nationwide, she consults with restaurants across the country to develop unique sake lists and staff training programs. She has served as a judge for the U.S. National Sake Appraisal and in 2012, was awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai by the Japan Sake Brewers Association.
*photo by Hirokazu Takayama
With his first sip in 2005, Timothy Sullivan simply fell in love with premium Japanese sake. This inspired him to start the first sake blog in the United States: UrbanSake.com. His passion for sake has grown this site into America’s leading resource for sake related news, events and education. In 2007, the Japanese Sake Brewer’s Association awarded Sullivan the title of “Sake Samurai” in recognition of his work to promote sake outside of Japan. Currently, Timothy Sullivan works full time in the sake industry conducting sake seminars, educational tasting events and media outreach to introduce what the Japanese call ‘the drink of the gods’ to new fans in the U.S. and around the world.
Since April 2007, Ms. Kurashima is Editor-in-Chief of Koten Sakaba, a charismatic magazine for serious sake fanatics, focused on Japanese izakaya scene and culture in Tokyo. She is also the author of Tokyo Gubigubi Pakupaku Kofuku Nikki (Diary of a mouthful of happiness) and is also a certified sake sommelier (Kikisake-shi) of Sake Service Institute.
Ms. Kurashima started her own company, Kurashima Products Inc, in 2009 to introduce the Tokyo izakaya scene to serious sake lovers and izakaya fans. Along with her magazine Koten Sakaba Ms. Kurashima maintains her popular blog “Koten Sakaba Blog by the drunk editor-in-chief of Koten Sakaba” in which she writes about her day to day life exploring sake and izakaya.
Ms. Kurashima will help us explore the izakaya scene in Tokyo which is hidden to most foreigners. We’ll have an Izakaya night to remember.