The guest is the most important thing
“A sushi chef is like a bartender mixed with a fish sculptor,” says Cole. It’s the height of hospitality in that each bite is prepared purposefully for the customer and with an intimacy unparalleled in even the most open of kitchens. The role of a great sushi chef is to understand their guest’s tastes and cater to them without arrogance. “The best sushi chefs care about you as a particular individual. It’s like going to the dentist or a hair stylist,” says Kitamura.
A master chef will educate curious customers
Similar to how a craft bartender with a bad attitude can turn someone off of fancy cocktails, an unapproachable sushi chef isn’t doing the cuisine any favors. “My mission is to let people know about and enjoy our culture, which includes the art of sushi making and eating. The greatest sushi chefs have this same mentality and passion,” says Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. One element of the ambassadorial position is to explain techniques to help customers understand how much care is involved. “When I make a squid sushi, my guests will observe me make numerous slits on the squid. It’s very delicate work, the slits have to be even, not too deep, not too shallow. When I serve it, I explain to them that it is necessary to enjoy the softness of the fish,” says Yoshihiko Kousaka of Kosaka.