Receiving direct responses from customers is the true joy of being a sushi chef. Walking while eating is the foundation of a chef.
Lastly, what is the appeal of sushi restaurant work?
I’d have to say it’s being able to hear direct responses from customers.
You also get information like, “That restaurant was delicious.” And when I was out of ideas one time I tried putting out tempura, but they said, “Sorry, if I want to eat tempura I’ll go to a tempura restaurant. I came here because I wanted to eat sushi.” And I reflected that I can’t overdo things, so there are benefits like that too.
I can see whether customers’ faces are bright or dark when they eat what we make, and being able to cook while having exchanges like, “Not like this, but not quite like that,” is the fun of a sushi restaurant. Lately, some customers write their opinions on LINE, Facebook, and so on, but in the end being able to see responses right before your eyes is the easiest way to understand.
Being able to understand reactions on the spot may be characteristic of sushi restaurants. When do you receive motivation to cook?
Right now I’m studying by going, for example, to Mr. Kitagawa [the owner of “Oimatsu Kitagawa”], or maybe an Italian restaurant, and if they have a delicious item I do my best to faithfully reproduce it, revising or changing it… “Walking and eating” is my starting point. Wherever I go to eat, I take photos of the food, and I make folders of cooking for each season. My smartphone is filled with images of food.
So you’re actively using things like smartphones as well. Lastly, would you tell me your dreams?
As you might expect, it’s for people to go independent from my restaurant and make their own restaurant. I want to actualize the concept that “training students so their own restaurant can flourish is part of running a sushi restaurant.”
If possible, I don’t want this to be the kind of restaurant that can’t hold together without its main actor; I want it to be run by a main and supporting actor; and if the supporting actor could become independent from there and achieve success, that would be wonderful.
(interviewer: Osamu Saito, writer: Yasuyo Miyazaki, photographer: Yasunori Matsui)