13 August 2015

Number of Female Sushi Chefs Slowly Increasing

Female Sushi Chefs
Sushi is found at the humblest of supermarkets and on conveyor belt restaurants at the mall. It originated from Japan, but has now become a staple food for American consumers.

But why are there not enough female sushi chefs in the market?

There is a simple reason why there are not enough female sushi chefs and not many knew about it. It all has to do with biology, according to sushi master Jiro Ono’s son Yoshikazu.

After the premiere of the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," featuring the famous chef, the Wall Street Journal wanted to know what made a world-class sushi maker. When asked why not a single female chef appeared in the documentary, Ono's son, who works alongside his father in the three-star Michelin rated Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo’s Ginza station responded:

"The reason is because women menstruate. To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs."
Though the interview is over four years old, several media outlets recently brought it to light. But Yoshikazu may not be alone his belief.

Other food professionals say that women’s makeup and perfume "interfere with olfactory senses" when preparing food or that they can't hack the long hours in the kitchen. But the number one reason why women fail at sushi making, according the NY Times, is that their warm hands will make the sushi rice too warm.

However, Washington, D.C., master sushi chef Kaz Okochi disagrees with this notion.

These are really just excuses, says Okochi. There are few women sushi chefs mainly because professional cooking in Japan has been a male-dominated profession.

But there are signs of change for female sushi chefs, says FoodStory founder Yoko Isassi, a Los Angeles-based food consultant who sprinkles Japanese cultural education into the cooking classes she teaches.

"In the field of conveyor belt-style sushi bars, there will be more women working. If we talk about top-notch sushi restaurant, that's another story," she writes in an email.