Land O’Lakes Scholar aims to bring Japanese food to all

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 3:30pm

Kenta Nakatsuka, a Land O’Lakes Scholarship recipient, grew up helping his parents cultivate vegetables and rice. But his interest in food really developed in the kitchen. “I love eating,” he says. “I would sit beside my mother and cut vegetables and learn how to make things.”

At first, Nakatsuka, who grew up in in Okayama, Japan, wanted to become a chef, but instead turned to science. He also wanted to study in an English-speaking country with a diverse population. “Going to a Japanese university would have been fine, but I’m kind of a risk-taker,” he says.

After earning an associate’s degree at Green River College in Washington, he discovered the University of Minnesota offered an agriculture and food business management degree.

The degree program fit with Nakatsuka’s goal of one day launching a Japanese food franchise. “After I came to America, I saw a strong need for international cuisine,” he says. “I want to make food that’s healthy and available to everyone at a reasonable price.”

He says scholarship support from Land O’ Lakes and the proximity to Fortune 500 companies influenced his decision to come to Minnesota. “And I like the Twin Cities,” he says.