At Chefs in Schools, we’re all about revolutionising school food. This means doing things nobody has tried before – well – not in a school kitchen anyway.

At Woodmansterne School they’ve undertaken a new adventure: making their own Koji.

For the uninitiated (don’t worry you’re not alone) what is Koji? 

A Japanese Staple

Koji is the culture behind Japanese food production – all the Japanese staples: Miso, Soy Sauces, Sake (for the grown ups) and more, come from Koji.  Miso is a favourite of Executive Chef Nicole who mixes it with tomatoes for a great pasta sauce that we serve in schools.  What are your favourite koji-related recipes?


How does it work?

Koji is cooked rice or soya beans that are inoculated with a fermentation culture, Aspergillus oryzae. 
Once it’s been created, the koji is usually added to larger quantities of rice or soya beans, together with a brine solution. In each case, the enzymes in the koji break down complex carbohydrates and proteins into amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars. Then it can be used for food magic.

“Two chefs at Woodmansterne were interested in learning more about this…so I drew up a little plan for a fermentation lab, sourced the equipment and put it together in their dry store room. We then spent a few days together growing Koji, before teaching them the basics of how it can be applied. Now the kitchen is regularly producing its own shio Koji – a marinating super tool to impart umami flavour”.

Adam Bernstein

Chef Trainer, Chefs in Schools


The fermentation sessions also involve the school’s science classes, where students are able to see first-hand the process they’ve been studying in class. This isn’t only an example of what a highly skilled, ambitious and cutting edge school kitchen team can do, it’s also a perfect example of food education in action. 

At Chefs in Schools we believe in a whole school approach. 

Transforming food culture doesn’t just happen in the dining room, it also takes place in the classrooms too. We want to get children buzzing after a lesson in food education and to get excited about the food they eat because they’ve been involved in the processes that produce it.

To learn more

To learn all about koji and more, head over to the Woodmansterne School Kitchen’s Instagram account, where they document all of their exciting school food adventures.