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JACCC Announces Naming of Watanabe Culinary Center

Mr. and Mrs. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe with JACCC board members at the opening night of the Los Angeles premiere of “Allegiance.” Pictured from left: Jeff Folick, Thomas Iino, Gerald Fukui, George Tanaka (JACCC immediate past chair), Hidemi Watanabe, Toshizo Watanabe, Leslie Ito (JACCC president and CEO), Bette Hiramatsu, Glenn Inanaga, Henry Ota, Jean Miao, Craig Tomiyoshi (JACCC chair).

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center has named its culinary center the Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center in recognition of a $2 million lead gift from The Toshizo Watanabe Foundation to JACCC’s culinary initiative.

The Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center will be an exhibition and learning center highlighting Japanese cuisine, culinary talent, food and beverage products, and other culinary products. It will be connected with the James Irvine Japanese Garden on JACCC’s campus, in the heart of Little Tokyo; and as a part of the dynamic and growing Downtown Los Angeles, it is an optimal location for launching a new culinary concept.

“JACCC’s culinary initiative will play an important role in the continuing efforts to bridge communities and bringing new audiences to JACCC and Little Tokyo,” said Watanabe. “Hidemi and I are proud to support the Culinary Cultural Center and its programs as it will be a great resource and gathering place for people to learn about Japanese foods, traditions, techniques, and sharing culture with future generations.”

“We are grateful to Toshizo and Hidemi Watanabe and The Toshizo Watanabe Foundation for their generous gift to launch the Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center,” said Craig Tomiyoshi, JACCC board chair. “Their leadership and vision to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations has made them cultural ambassadors, bridging communities together through scholarships and the arts.”

“We look forward to the completion of the Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center,” said JACCC President and CEO Leslie A. Ito. “It will hold true to JACCC’s mission of being the epicenter for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture as a new concept enhancing our performing arts, visual arts, and traditional arts programs, and serving diverse communities in Southern California and beyond.”

Additional major supporters for the Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center are Hoshizaki America, Ken and Jo Ann Hamamura, Suntory Holdings Ltd., Joachim Splichal, and Pasona NA, Inc.

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