How to Become a Sushi Chef
If you’re wondering how to become a sushi chef because you love this Japanese delicacy so much, you might feel slightly discouraged and intimidated by the masters in this field. If you are not Japanese you might be especially discouraged, but there is room for outsiders in this industry, as long as you are good at what you do. There is also room for much innovation. Although the traditional raw fish dishes prepared in Japanese restaurants are what define sushi, you can use this medium with a variety of ingredients and think outside the box. You must also learn skills such as fermenting fish and other Japanese cooking tricks if you want to enter this profession. So where should you begin?
The first step to becoming a sushi chef is to learn as much as possible about the culture and history of sushi. Although you can find sushi chef culinary training programs that last for three to six months in the United States, most sushi chefs in Japan work under a master chef for many years before they are ready, so try to respect the culture as much as possible. It is important to learn how to use the various Japanese ingredients to make sauces and cook your sushi. This includes raw and fermented fish, crab, sea urchins, clams, pickled ginger, lotus roots, sesame and much more.
You must learn how to prepare the sushi itself, as well as all the popular noodle, rice and soba side dishes. Mushroom preparation is particularly important. Before even entering a culinary school you should hone your skills by cooking for friends and family. Try preparing food for them tableside, as many sushi chefs do. Doing all the chopping, frying, rolling and preparing of food right in front of your guests will force you to think fast.
With your skills honed you can then find a good sushi school where you can study the art of Japanese cooking. Do your research and find one that is reputable with graduates working in the field. You may only start out making a salary of around $37,000 as a sushi chef, but hang in there. With skill and talent your career can go far.
Institutions offering quality Culinary Arts Programs include The International Culinary Institute at the Art Institutes, Le Cordon Blue Schools, The French Culinary Institute, The Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University.