The Gohan Society

The Gohan Society Culinary Cultural Exchange Scholarship Program

About Us

The Gohan Society’s mission is to foster a mutual appreciation of culinary heritage between the United States and Japan through outreach to chefs, culinary arts professionals, and food enthusiasts.

We are committed to the principles of cultural and gastronomic education and exchange. We believe that by inspiring chefs, restaurateurs, journalists, and food lovers, we will expand and enrich their repertoires, their artistry, and their cultural understanding.

The Gohan Society serves as a resource center for knowledge of traditional Japanese ingredients, techniques and food-related products, and as a catalyst for the expansion of that knowledge.



The Gohan Society Culinary Cultural Exchange Scholarship Program will send accomplished Sous Chefs, Chefs de Cuisine, or Executive Chefs to Japan for a ten-day culinary cultural exchange program in order to expand their interest in Japanese cuisine and culture and to learn authentic cooking techniques that they can teach/apply in their respective kitchens.


Meet our 2020 Chef Scholars

William Cesark
Line Cook, Fishtail By David Burke

W Cesark HeadshotMy name is William Cesark, I am 28 years old and I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. After graduating high school I attended the Culinary Institute of America and graduated in May 2011. upon graduation I worked for Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud for four years. During the course of my time I was promoted to Sous Chef. In 2015 I accepted a job at Gabriel Kreuther. After my first year I was promoted to Sous Chef and I currently hold that postion. I am very excited about this opportunity to join The Gohan Society and further the development of my culinary career.




Alex Dorjpurev 
Chef de Cuisine, Morimoto Asia

Alex photoI was an opening Head sushi chef of Morimoto Asia in Disney Spring at 2015. I worked under the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto NYC as sushi chef previously. In 2019, Executive chef Yuhi Fujinaga promoted me to Chef de Cuisine, participating in daily operations and management. Originally from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In 1998, I moved the United States and started working at Japanese restaurant as a dishwasher. Since then, I have worked side by side with many great chefs, they inspired me to become a Sushi chef.



Brian Flagg     
Regional Executive Chef, Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

465 crop HeadshotBrian Flagg is Executive Chef for the acclaimed restaurants and catering services at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). Reflecting his more than 20 years of experience in premier New England kitchens, he recently opened 465 Bar and Restaurant—the MFA”s newest dining venue—with a root-to-stalk approach that is both environmentally friendly and innovative. All of the MFA’s diverse dining venues emphasize artfully prepared cuisine using sustainable, local ingredients sourced from regional farmers, artisans and fisherpeople. Chef Flagg’s love of food and culture is exemplified in his passion for travel as his culinary adventures have taken him to more than 30 countries and six continents. Prior to joining the MFA, Chef Flagg was Director of Culinary Operations for the Worcester Restaurant Group. Additionally, he has served as Executive Chef at Harvest, a Boston area culinary landmark in Harvard Square, and led the
kitchens at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel and served as Corporate Executive Chef for Jasper White’s restaurants. Born and bred in central Massachusetts, Chef Flagg’s family includes four generations of culinary professionals.


Jonathan Karis
Executive Sous Chef, Gramercy Tavern

I grew up in Massachusetts. I received my undergraduate degree in Biology from Boston University. I began my culinary career towards the end of my senior year and have been cooking since. After working in Massachusetts first, I moved to the Bay Area, California shortly after where I got my foundation professionally. After four years out west I moved to New York City. I have been working at Gramercy Tavern for the past number of years, working my way from line cook to Executive Sous Chef. In my free time I enjoy traveling around the city in search of new food/ cuisine and shooting photographs.

William Trover
Executive Chef, Makoto

After graduating from culinary school in his native Fort Lauderdale, chef William Trover began his cooking career in Miami, working at the Hyatt Regency before landing at Zuma, Chef Rainer Becker’s international izakaya, helping him reconnect with his Japanese roots. Next up, Trover opened The Dutch with chef Andrew Carmellini at the W South Beach before heading to Red, The Steakhouse in Miami Beach, where he rose from broiler cook to sous chef. Trover joined STARR Restaurants in 2015, first as sous chef at The Continental’s Miami Beach location, then later as executive sous chef of Makoto, chef Makoto Okuwa’s namesake restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops. After logging a year as executive sous chef of STARR’s El Vez in Fort Lauderdale, Trover returns to Makoto as its executive chef, tapping into his unique Japanese Latin-European palate to provide a skillful and authoritative voice in the kitchen.



Previous Scholarship Recipients

The Chef Scholarship Program is one of our most important initiatives at The Gohan Society, as it allows us to send U.S.-based chefs to Japan, where they will experience a truly genuine and unforgettable culinary adventure. In exchange, we bring chefs from Japan to train at restaurants in New York. Past U.S.-based scholarship recipients include Chris Muller, Executive Chef of the Michelin three-star rated restaurant Le Bernardin; Chef Eddy Leroux, Chef de Cuisine at Daniel (two Michelin stars); Cédric Vongerichten, Chef de Cuisine at Perry St; Chef Brother Luck, owner/chef of Four by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs and “cheftestant” on Bravo Top Chef; Akshay Bhardwaj, Executive Chef of Junoon NYC (Michelin star-rated); and Suzanne Cupps, Chef de Cuisine of Untitled at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


2019 Chef Scholarship Recipients


2020 Culinary Cultural Exchange Scholarship

Tentative Program Itinerary, May 23, 2020 (Program details subject to change)

5/23 – Depart for Japan

5/24 – Arrive to Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa Prefecture (Stay in a traditional Japanese inn 2 nights)

5/25 – Cultural Activities in Yamanaka

5/26 – Travel from Yamanaka to Kanazawa (Stay in hotel in Kanazawa 4 nights), Day 1 of Stage

5/27 – Day 2 of Stage

5/28 – Day 3 of Stage

5/29 – Day 4 of Stage

5/30 – Free day in Kanazawa

5/31 – Travel from Kanazawa to Osaka, afternoon and evening in Osaka (stay in Osaka 2 nights)

6/1 – Visit Sakai knife makers

6/2 – Travel from Osaka to Tokyo, fugu experience (stay in Tokyo 2 nights)

6/3 – Visit to Toyosu fish market, free day in Tokyo, farewell dinner

6/4 – Return to US


What’s covered?

- Air tickets and all transportation during this program (except for free days)

- Accommodations (except for free days)

- Meals (except for free days)



- Must have a genuine interest in Japanese cuisine and culture, which you should explain in the required essay.

- Must have 6+ years of experience in a professional kitchen.

- Must have approval from supervisor of your workplace.

- Must be a working Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine, or Executive Chef at the time of the application process and the scholarship program.


Application Requirements

- Submit application by August 23, 2019.

- Pay an application fee of $50 (Includes one-year membership to The Gohan Society).


If selected, you will be required to do the following:

- Attend the mandatory orientation in March/April, exact date TBD.

- Keep a daily active log on social media and tag The Gohan Society using @gohansociety and #gohansociety during the program.

-Devote your full time and attention to the program. Spouses and family members are NOT permitted to accompany candidates during the official portion of the program. You may extend your stay in Japan at your own expense after the completion of the program.

- Be courteous, attentive, and professional during your stage in Japan.

- Continue your affiliation with The Gohan Society as a Culinary Advisory Board member after the program.

- Have your own medical/health and travel insurance. The Gohan Society is not responsible and will not provide any medical/ health/travel insurance for this program or otherwise.

- Participate in events following the Scholarship trip to demonstrate your newfound cooking techniques and share some details of your trip to a public audience.

- Fill out a survey at the conclusion of the program.



Applicants are judged and selected based on a variety of factors in the sole discretion of The Gohan Society. Some of the factors include the completed essay, professional experience, letter(s) of recommendation, and involvement with The Gohan Society. Finalists may be requested to participate in a personal interview. In judging and selecting candidates, The Gohan Society will abide by all applicable US federal, state, and local rules prohibiting discrimination.


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