How do I Become a Sushi Chef?

K. Testa

There are several ways to become a sushi chef. Sushi is a type of Japanese cuisine that includes many varieties of fish and seafood. It typically entails raw cooking and a certain manner of presentation. The word 'sushi' actually means a type of rice seasoned with vinegar, an accompaniment to raw fish dishes often served in a sushi restaurant. Despite its simple ingredients, some people consider sushi to be an art form as well as a culinary style. In addition to the basic qualifications held by any professional chef, some unique skills are usually needed to become a sushi chef. It often requires artistic vision along with significant cooking experience. Such experience can often be gained either at a traditional culinary school, or via an online sushi academy.

Nigiri sushi assortment.
Nigiri sushi assortment.

Someone who wants to become a sushi chef usually starts by attending a cooking school in order to earn a general culinary arts degree or similar credentials. The individual might then pursue more specialized sushi chef training, taking courses such as Asian cuisine or sushi arts. One skill that is usually common to all of these types of training is proficiency with knives. Creativity with ingredients and artful presentation are two other skills generally had by top chefs. Next, someone who feels that he or she might benefit from the guidance and personal attention of a mentor might seek work as an apprentice for a master sushi chef.

Two futomaki rolls.
Two futomaki rolls.

It is also possible to train online to become a sushi chef. Certain training sites present basic sushi information, such as its cultural history and the proper way to eat it. Others offer more specialized knowledge regarding sushi-making techniques, for instance. One can usually obtain detailed nutritional information for sushi’s common ingredients, as well. Students can also receive training about the various types of Japanese knives and other recommended kitchen tools. Many people choose online courses because they can view training videos at their convenience and complete their sushi chef training according to their own schedule.

Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.

The next step for someone who wants to become a sushi chef is usually to work in either a sushi bar or a full-service restaurant. A typical sushi bar is often set up with different stations, and the chef’s role is somewhat limited. A restaurant, on the other hand, normally requires food preparation knowledge that extends beyond sushi dishes and includes other types of cuisine. An experienced sushi chef might eventually be required to train new chefs and manage other restaurant employees. He or she usually must also know how to order food items and tools for the establishment, and to demonstrate his or her awareness of food safety and proper handling and storage.

Some sushi has crab in it.
Some sushi has crab in it.
A sushi chef must have advanced knife handling skills.
A sushi chef must have advanced knife handling skills.
An aspiring sushi chef should attend cooking school.
An aspiring sushi chef should attend cooking school.
Working in a sushi bar or full-service restaurant is an important step in becoming a sushi chef.
Working in a sushi bar or full-service restaurant is an important step in becoming a sushi chef.

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