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By Todd Bender, MidHudsonNews:
HYDE PARK – Dassai Premium Sake of Japan broke ground on its first sake brewery in America on Monday in Hyde Park to bring Japan's most popular sake to the discerning palates on this side of the Pacific.
At a ceremony on the grounds of the former Stop and Shop location on St. Andrews Road, just off Route 9, government leaders and interested residents gathered to hear Kazahiro Sakurai of Dassai thank government leaders in Dutchess County who have made the project possible and at an expedited pace.
Sakurai credited Hyde Park Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr with spearheading an amendment to the zoning laws to allow for the construction of the sake brewery and tasting room as well as Michael Dupree, chairman of the town's planning board, who according to Sakurai "worked closely with the project's architects to balance Japanese principles with the historic character of Hyde Park. Dupree added that the project "reactivates a site that has been empty for many years" that will also bring more tourism to Hyde Park.”
According to the Dassai representative, Dutchess County government also played a critical role by offering unspecified tax incentives for the project that will help provide financial stability from construction through the initial years of production of the alcoholic beverage made from rice and water.
County Executive Marc Molinaro said the facility will add to the already popular tourism destinations that call the county home.
"Dutchess is already the epicenter of great food and beverage with the Culinary Institute and many other breweries,” Molinaro said. “Dassai has world-class sake - the best sake in the world. Here, in the gateway to Hyde Park it is not only a great accomplishment but it will put people to work, expand Dutchess as a brand and also continue to enhance Hyde Park as a community.”
Culinary Institute of America's Chief of Staff Rick Tietjen said his school has been working with Dassai for well over a year to build a strong educational connection with the school enhancing its Japanese cooking programs. Sake education, according to Tietjen, will play a pivotal role in the programming. He declared that the area will now be a "food, beverage and sake destination." According to Sakurai, "Rick has helped bridge the gap between the Japanese sake culture and the culinary world."
Hiroshi Sakurai, father of Kazahiro and founder/chairman of Dassai was also on hand to thank the supporters and announce, through a translator that he will be residing in the Hudson Valley for at least the next year as the brewery takes shape.
"We are honored that you welcome us to your community and allow us to create the first sake brewery in the United States here in the Hudson Valley."
Sakurai also introduced a friend of his from Japan, Chef Hiroshi Ogata, who made the trip from Japan to prepare a light fare for attendees that paired well with the sake. Ogata prepared grilled eel, smoked eel and a mixture of karasumi and mullet roe that is sautéed and sun-dried before being served with the sake. The chef also prepared an eel rice topped with fuku which is a Japanese symbol for prosperity.
The brewery and tasting room are scheduled to open to the public in early 2020.