The Ikigai Collection
Koji is a microorganism native to East Asia that has been used for over two thousand years in the production of food & alcohol products like miso & sake, and is known to create the ineffable, savory flavor of Umami, found naturally in mushrooms, seaweed, cheeses, cured meats, and so on.
As the fifth Basic Taste (along with sweet, sour, bitter, salty), Umami was discovered in 1908 by the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, who coined the term. It is translated as 'delicious flavor' and is understood to enhance the other four Basic Tastes, drawing them toward the center, developing a kind of synergy between them, and deepening the flavor of a dish.
At the Momofuku Culinary Lab, Koji is grown on Basmati rice and used to ferment seeds, nuts, and vegetables, producing Hozon, an umami-rich paste which is similar in texture and application to miso. Applying Momofuku's ingenious production technique to brewing is the basis of our collaboration: The Ikigai Collection.
The Japanese concept IKIGAI is translated as 'reason for being' and is meant to describe the individual's journey of finding true purpose in life, particularly in relation to work. The concept is often represented as a Venn diagram, with four overlapping circles. Each circle corresponds to a different approach toward life, and is expressed in the imperative: (1) do what you can be paid to do, (2) do what you are good at doing, (3) do what you love to do, and (4) do what the world needs. At the center of these four circles is an elusive smaller circle, containing elements of each, and this is where you will find true purpose. This is IKIGAI.
The Ikigai Collection is our attempt to reproduce the five Basic Tastes in a single product: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and finally Umami.
The Ikigai Collection will be released on Saturday, March 9 at noon.
Photos by Matt Petricone & Patrick Capriglione
Words by Jason Synan