Food and Drink Events for Japan Relief


Interior of Niizawa brewery before the earthquake [Photograph: Kentaro Sugihara]

The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 hit Japan's sake industry quite hard. I have heard about 23 sake breweries that have either collapsed from the earthquake or were wiped out by tsunami waves.

Niizawa Shuzo, a brewery in Miyagi prefecture that produces Hakurakusei and Atagonomatsu sakes, completely toppled during the earthquake—only a single pillar in the brewery remained upright. The brewer there, Mr. Niizawa, is a brilliant sake maker and an amazing teacher. I've had the opportunity to "stage" with him inside of his brewery two winters in a row, and have learned invaluable lessons from him about production and tasting. This brewery was severely damaged during the last major earthquake in Japan, and to lose his entire business so soon after rebuilding is devastating.

Brewers like him are working hard to get back on their feet, and in honor of Mr. Niizawa and many others, I'd like to take a break from Sake School today and offer instead a list of benefit dinners, bake sales, and drinking events around the country that are raising money for relief in Japan.


Bake Sale For Japan
Saturday, April 2nd, 10am-2pm Professional and amateur bakers, cooks, artists, artisans, and musicians have come together around food to raise money for Peace Winds Japan, an organization dedicated to the support of people in disaster stricken areas. Various locations in California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Texas, North Carolina, and Hawaii; event website


Sake Pairing for Japan Disaster Relief
Thursday, March 31st Nombe restaurant in San Francisco will be holding a "Sake 101" discussion of sake and food pairings, with five unique sake selections complemented by Chef Vincent Shofield's cooking. Dishes will include bavette steak, chicken, and sashimi. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Japan Disaster Relief fund. Sponsors include World Sake Imports, Joto Sake Selections, ABS Seafood, Golden Gate Meats, and Modesto Food Distributors. $45. Nombe, 2491 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA; 415-681-7150 event website


Dine Out to Support Japanese Earthquake Relief
Tuesday, March 29th On Tuesday, March 29th, 58 Portland restaurants have committed to donating a portion of sales to MercyCorps to help Japanese earthquake survivors. Participants include Masu, Savoy, Tanuki, and Central. Various locations; event website

Kanpai! Empty Your Glass for Japan
Sunday May 1st 5-8pm SakeOne brewing and importing company and Young's Columbia Wine Company have teamed up to offer an evening of sake, food, and music to raise funds for Japan relief. 100% of proceeds go to MercyCorps. Food provided by local Portland restaurants and specialty cheese stores, with music from Araki Kodo VI and Takohachi Taiko. $30 minimum donation. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison Street, Portland, OR; 503-784-2010 event website


Salami for Tsunami
Wednesday, March 30th 6pm Beer and salami tasting and auction hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery, 8 Days a Week Printing Co, Stone Cup Café, and the Old Stone Church. Drink local beer, taste salami and southern-influenced dishes, plus bid on local and imported salamis as well as works of art constructed from salami by local artists. Proceeds donated to MercyCorps. $20. Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, 303 Main Street, Lyons, CO; 303-823-6685 event website


Chicago's Chefs Cook for Japan Benefit at Takashi
Monday April 18th 5pm-10pm Twelve of Chicago's master chefs will collaborate in preparing a six course meal to support Japan relief. Chefs include Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Bill Kim of Urban Belly, and Paul Virant of Vie. A silent auction will also be conducted in the space next door. 100% of all proceeds from the auction and dinner will be donated to relief efforts in Japan. $250 for reservations between 6-9pm, $200 for reservations between 5-5:30pm or 9:30-10pm. Takashi, 1952 North Damen Ave, Chicago, IL; 773-772-6170 event website


Sip Sake for the Sake of Japan
Monday April 4th 6:30pm Five course dinner at Blue Ginger presented by Chef Ming Tsai, paired with TYKU sakes and spirits. Proceeds will be donated to Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. $115 for dinner and beverage pairings, includes tax and gratuity. Blue Ginger, 583 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA; 781-283-5790 event website

Kaiseki at Clio and Uni
Sunday April 18th 7pm Multi-course fundraiser featuring 10 chefs from prominent Boston restaurants, including MIng Tsai and Michael Schlow of Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay. Dishes will be paired with Japanese sake and beer. All proceeds will be donated to help rebuild areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. $250 for dinner and beverage pairings. Clio restaurant, 370A Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA; 617-536-7200 event website

Tokyo Tuesdays: Gargoyles on the Square
Tuesdays, March 22nd through April 26th 5pm-12am Chef Jason Santos is offering a weekly bento box on Tuesdays, with proceeds from each bento box going to the American Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan.Gargoyles on the Square, 219 Elm Street, Somerville, MA; 617-776-5300
event website

New York

Matsuri Dinner and Dance to Benefit Japan Earthquake Relief
Friday April 1st, 6pm Experience celebrated Chef Tadashi Ono's fusion of rustic homestyle Japanese cooking with elevated modern cuisine while taking in Sachiyo Ito and Company, performing several 20 minute sets throughout the evening. Sachiyo and her dancers are masters of Kabuki and Okinawan Court Dance. 10% of all proceeds generated from the evening's sales will be donated to the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. A la carte menu. Matsuri, 369 West 16th Street, New York, NY; 212-243-6400 event website

A Dram for Japan: A Whisky Benefit for Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief
Saturday April 2nd 5-8pm An evening of whisky, snacks provided by Ward III, and a silent auction to raise funds for the Red Cross and Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. $30. Ward III, 111 Reade Street, New York, NY; 212-240-9189 event website

Dine at Co. to Support Disaster Relief in Japan
Monday April 4th, starting at 5pm Company restaurant will be donating 50% of all sales to the Red Cross to fund relief efforts in Japan. Enjoy Jim Lahey's signature pizzas and breads, all for a great cause. A la carte menu. Co., 230 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY; 212-243-1105 event website


First Friday: Benefit for Japan Relief
Friday April 1st 5pm Silent art auction with live music to benefit Japan relief. 100% of proceeds to be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. Complimentary beer tastings to be provided by Magic Hat Brewing Company, and snacks provided by Q BBQ Tequila. Free. Drink Philly, 239 Chestnut St, 2nd Fl, Unit B, Philadelphia, PA event website