Really, I think sushi is a very racist food. Nobody trusts a white sushi chef, there’s a glass ceiling for white sushi chefs.
I would also assume one of the hallmarks of a great sushi chef is consistency. I’ve had sub-par sushi served to me at competent, well-regarded sushi places. Heck, just the other week I had a roll (yes, I know) at one of Chicago’s top-rated sushi restaurants that I don’t think should have left the kitchen.
There’s a cultural value in Japan for doing simple things consistently, attentively, and perfectly. A great sushi chef would be one who applies those values – where you can know each morsel of food in front of you was individually made to be perfect.
And it also really comes down to specialization and exclusivity in culinary terms. Sushi Chef is really a very narrow culinary specialty… you become a master of fish and rice, two very simple things at its nucleus, then you take them to their existential, cultural, and aesthetic bounds. You serve the absolute best with no regard to time, by limiting the clientele, Jiro’s sushi bar serves what… 10 people at the most at a time. And you do all of this by charging a premium.
The food is racist? The little slabs of dead fish, rice, seaweed look up at a white person and sneer “gaijin”?
The way you put that is ridiculous. The fact that Japanese society has racist elements is hardly news, but don’t blame the food on the plate.
Ok, if sushi isn’t racist… then name one famous white sushi chef.
You don’t get it - it isn’t the FOOD that’s racist, it’s the CULTURE.
And, frankly, I couldn’t name a famous Japanese sushi chef, much less one of any other color.
Oh, I get it. I’m not stupid enough to think that seaweed, fish, and rice is racist… other than it might be poor Southern food here in the U.S…
I’m talkin about the OP …sushi chefs and sushi culture, even here in the U.S. I’ve not once seen a white sushi chef. I sometimes dream wistfully of opening a sushi and teppan yaki restaurant in Japan… but I know that realistically I am probably shut out.
Yes, it’s true. I want to be the “Aunt Jemima” of "Gaijin Sushi " in Japan. I want to be Big in Japan. That’s the cash market.
Being male, for a start (womens’ hands are too warm for making sushi).
I have. I’ve even seen a black sushi chef, which is arguably rarer than a white one.
You saw a black sushi chef in Japan?
Hell, I as the first White Man could be the first Blackman in the Japanese Sushi market. I could be the John Brown or Susan B. Anthony of the sufferage sushi (and teppan yaki) movement. Iam only into this so much as to offer mulch for Bourdain’s action comic.
Poorly-made sushi will have the wrap come apart and the rice not clump properly. Plus, if you’re brave enough to try fugu or blowfish, you really want a pro to handle it.
I had a sushi chef (Korean, not Japanese) scold me for using chopsticks instead of my hands. Generally, though, they’ll provide chopsticks and not comment on my eating habits, in Korea, Japan and the US.
I listen to Asian Jazz musicians, but seldom with enthusiasm. People like the illusion of authenticity. It goes with the decor.
When did I ever say I was in Japan?
Or did you think sushi was entirely restricted to Japan?
It’s gone world-wide now. If Japan wants to be all stuck in the mud about it, so what? The rest of us will be enjoying good sushi without the fetters of over-done tradition.
Make fewer assumptions.
Daniel Dunham, formerly of SF’s Sushi Sebo.
regarding the racist issue-- If I walk into a Mexican restaurant and all I see is Anglos working the kitchen…my expectations will go down.
There’s an “authenticity” that people are looking for at times. Is it right for folks to feel that way? Nope. It’s prejudice for sure.
My favorite Sushi place is staffed largely by Mexican chefs.
If making Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chef list, a Best Chef award (Southwest) from the James Beard Foundation, and an appearance as a contestant on “Iron Chef” make one famous enough, then Tyson Cole.
I don’t so much care who is working in the kitchen, I care about whoever it is that decided what they’ll cook and how they’ll cook it. Which generally isn’t actually the person cooking it.