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Secular humanist, freethinker, progressive, and bibliophile.

The World’s Greatest Sushi Chef

Jiro Ono, a Sushi Artisan

The Hollywood Reporter discusses an interesting documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which is about an 85-year-old sushi chef Jiro Ono who’s perfectionism and artistry to food preparation is legendary. The subject of the film is just as unique as the premise itself (it’s not often we find a documentary about a chef).

Shooting mostly in the 10-seater basement restaurant Sukiyayabashi Jiro (whose menu starts at around $300 minimum) in Ginza, the feature itself is largely squashed inside the chef’s small, meticulously routine world. Interviews with Jiro, his sons, his apprentices and food critics concur on his perfectionist attitude — not surprising if one is familiar with Japanese reverence for “shokunin” (artisan’s) dedicated work ethic.

Still, the lengths Jiro takes to maintain and improve his standards — from never taking a day off except to go to funerals, to massaging an octopus for 50 minutes, to customizing plate layout for left-handed customers — have their amusement value. Conversations with his sons Yoshikazu and Takashi elicit sympathy for the pressure one would expect they’re under to sustain the restaurant’s reputation in the long term. The most touching anecdote comes from an apprentice’s account of how he wept when Jiro finally gave his approval to his egg dish after rejecting the previous 200 he made.

This man is serious business. I have tremendous admiration for people who ply their craft with this level of devotion and personal commitment. He takes food preparation to a whole other level I didn’t even think possible.

Below is a clip from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, a culinary and travel show.

Needless to say, I need to save up and eat there someday. I’m sure the unique experience would be worth the entry-level cost of $300. If anyone else knows of similar culinary masters, please share.