VIU Culinary Instructor receives gold certification in Japanese cooking

Avi Stenberg holding an award and smiling at the camera

Photo: VIU Culinary Instructor Avi Sternberg has received his gold certification in Japanese cooking.

March 2, 2023 - 1:00pm

Only a small number of chefs worldwide have this particular designation.

VIU Culinary Arts Instructor Avi Sternberg is joining a small number of chefs from around the world who have successfully navigated a rigorous certification process to get his skills in Japanese cooking recognized.

Sternberg was recently awarded the gold certificate in the Certification of Cooking Skills for Japanese Cuisine in Foreign Countries program, which recognizes chefs who have attained a certain level of knowledge and skill in this industry. As of September 2022, only 20 chefs around the world held this certification.

“I felt nervous during the exam but feel very happy to receive the gold certification,” he said. “I am passionate and dedicated to sharing with the Vancouver Island University students and other chefs in Canada a range of fundamental Japanese skills, knowledge and culture to celebrate together the rich spirit of Japanese traditional cuisine.”

The certification exam focused on the cooking of Shokado Bento and Suimono. Information on the ingredients to be used in the exam was presented to Sternberg one month before the exam date. He then submitted the list of meals he would serve in a Shokado Bento box to the secretariat one week before the exam date. On the day of the exam, he prepared two servings of Shokado Bento and Suimono in three hours. The scope of the exam included the composition of meals served, cooking practices performed and the taste of the finished work.

Sternberg worked in restaurants in Japan for many years and graduated from the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka in 2006. He wrote a book titled Itamae to share his training experience in Japan and important lessons learned as a foreign Washoku chef. As a Culinary Arts Instructor at VIU, he is sharing his passion for Japanese cooking with his students.

In the fall, he helped VIU attain accreditation as a bronze level-certified institution in Cooking Skills for Japanese Cuisine in Foreign Countries. VIU is now one of only 12 institutions in the world permitted to offer this training, and one of only two in North America, the other one being the Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles

“Being able to teach these techniques has been my dream and vision since before beginning my training in Japan and it means a great deal to me to see it come full circle. Japanese culinary knife skills are considered the best in the world and this certification will provide students with the opportunity to gain knife skills that will aid them in their careers.”

The certification is being embedded into the Industry Training Authority (ITA) learning outcomes that guide students in their second year of VIU’s Culinary Arts program. Training will focus on knowledge of Japanese knife skills, the use of Japanese ingredients and cooking methods, dietary culture, hygiene management and omotenashi (Japanese hospitality and service).

For Sternberg, the appeal of Japanese cuisine and chef skills lies in the fact that there are no wasted movements in the kitchen.

“It took a long time of training in Japanese kitchens to understand that the entire preparation of cuisine is based off well-organized plans and anticipation. It’s a very deep cooking culture,” he said.



Eric Zimmer, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.618.7296 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Watch Avi receive his certification

Click on the top video on the right in the link below to see an interview with Avi and video footage of him receiving the certification in Tokyo. 

Watch now

Tags: Culinary Arts | Teaching and Learning

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