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Tuesday, 5th February 2013
In General Japan News,

Sushi school of hard knocks

Sushi is a dish eaten the world over and while millions of people across the globe enjoy eating balls of rice and raw fish, few probably take the time to think about what it takes to become a sushi chef.

That is until now, as AFP has opened the lid on the art of the sushi chef and what it takes to make it in the profession.

An intensive training course run in Tokyo by restaurant chain Shushi Zanmai which takes three months to complete would set students back some £3,684.

It takes a lot longer though to become a professional sushi chef and as Shugenori Yamanaka, an apprentice said, it is only the successful ones who make the grade.

Tetsuya Sakurai, another apprentice on the course, suggests that the training is hard work and describes it as "very tough, very aggressive … military style".

In a video of the school produced by AFP a teacher is heard telling a pupil that they must cut their fish again, after asking them "why are you doing it like that? What is that supposed to be?".

Kazuki Shimoyama, a sushi teacher at the school, explains that while some students master the art of sushi making in two years "for the slowest sometimes ten years is necessary for them to make acceptable sushi".

Mr Shimoyama suggests that would-be chefs need to learn from experienced chefs by watching their work, and practicing themselves.

Sushi chefs hit the headlines in the US recently after it emerged that Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda who worked for a restaurant in Santa Monica called The Hump, which is no longer in existence, were alleged to have sold endangered whale meat.

The allegations against the pair are that they knowingly altered invoices so they read that the pair had bought fatty tuna instead of meat from Sei whales.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Sei whales are protected and should therefore not be served in restaurants.

Written by Graham McPherson

Related news stories:
All-female team of chefs opens sushi restaurant in Tokyo (29th December 2015)
Japanese food festival tempts US sushi lovers (19th November 2009)
Japanese government to train overseas chefs in sushi skills (25th January 2016)
Japan to improve global sushi skills (29th December 2010)