Sushi and sashimi are eminent components of Japanese cuisine that aren’t just special cooking techniques, but an art in itself. Professionally trained sushi chefs have need for specialized training that differs from general culinary arts education. Sushi has become more accessible and a popular feature at restaurants over the past decade.
Sushi chefs spend a lot of time paying attention to small details when working behind the sushi counter. Sushi is complex and requires exceptional knife skills and an extensive knowledge of raw food and fish. Not only do sushi chefs have to know how flavors are combined and play together but must also learn to create masterpieces that are a delight to the eyes.
This form of ‘food-art’ is quite fundamental when it comes to ingredients. If you’ve ever observed the making of sushi then you’ve probably watched a skilled chef create delectable and colorful dishes from quite a sparse selection of simple ingredients.
Since this culinary art form is so high in demand, professional sushi chefs today are drawn from all backgrounds and ethnicities, the position is no longer limited to skilled Japanese practitioners.
Although formal training is not required to become a sushi chef, there are viable educational strategies for those who are enthusiastic to learn about the art of sushi. Culinary programs are designed to speed up the process of the basic culinary skills needed to become a professional sushi chef. Those who are interested should seek out a formal culinary academy with departments specializing in sushi and Japanese cuisine. There are also international opportunities which exist in most Asian countries. Due to high demand of experienced sushi masters in Japanese restaurants, the number of educators and institutions offering relevant curriculum is growing rapidly.
Work experience is highly necessary even with formal training at an established institute. For the majority of sushi chefs, learning the crucial skills and artistry behind the perfect sushi can take as long as four years. Sushi chef apprentices are likely to train under the supervision of a professional and Certified Master of Sushi – a certified professional trained in technicalities and excellence.
We spoke with Tetsuya Yohei, reputable sushi chef from Oishi Restaurant in Amman, Jordan. Oishi serve both Chinese and Japanese food and have built a reputation over the years for outstanding cuisine, especially in regards to their sushi. Quality is first class at both Oishi restaurants and the sushi is created using only the best ingredients. Here is what Tetsuya had to say about becoming a sushi chef:
Hi Tetsuya, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Firstly, was it difficult for you to become a sushi chef? What advice would you give to those considering to go into this field?
“Being a sushi chef takes a lot of patience. Ten years ago, I enrolled myself into a $6,000 intensive and very stressful course in Tokyo. That small ball of rice with slices of raw fish may look like a simple job, but in reality it’s the art of perfection. The best students take up to two years to master their skill and the slower ones take up to four. I took two and a half years to master my skills, it was an enjoyable but difficult time. Before you are start to learn about combining the fish with the rice you have to perfect your knife skills, that is the hardest part. My best advice to those considering to join the world of sushi art would be to love what you do and have patience at all times.”
Why did you choose to work as a sushi chef in Amman, Jordan?
“Sushi is becoming very popular nowadays in all regions of the world. I always wanted to travel and the opportunity arose for me at Oishi Restaurant in Amman. Sushi is my specialty but I enjoy making all kinds of Japanese and Chinese food that they serve there. I love cooking and I want to share my creations with people all around the world.”
One last question before we conclude things for the day. What is your favorite thing about your job?
“The best part of my job is seeing customers at the restaurant enjoy the sushi that I have made. It is a delight to bring the Japanese art of sushi to life in a different country.”
Thank you Tetsuya! Hopefully your insight and advice will help inspire aspiring sushi chefs!
If you’d like to follow Tetsuya and his team at Oishi in Amman, you can find them on Facebook here. To find your nearest Japanese culinary school take a look online or ask at your local sushi bar.