In a corner of Tokyo’s Akihabara district, Yuki Chizui runs Nadeshiko Sushi, the only sushi restaurant in all of Japan where all the chefs are women. Female sushi chefs are a distinct minority in Japan, and many traditionalists expect their chef to be “a gruff, older man with short hair and dressed in a simple white jacket.” Kazuyoshi Ono, son of Jiro Ono, owner of famed three-Michelin star restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, has claimed women make inferior sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle affects their sense of taste, and others have claimed the use of cosmetics interferes with women’s sense of smell.
But for December’s hectic bonenkai (forget-the-year party) season, Chizui and her colleagues are decked out in bright kimonos and headscarves. A motto hung on the wall reads “fresh and kawaii (cute),” and illustrations depict Chizui as a manga character, a nod to Akihabara’s reputation as a center for geek and pop culture. At the tender age of 29, Chizui already has more than a decade’s experience in the sushi industry. “The best way to answer our critics…” she says, “[is] to keep proving to our customers that we can make good sushi.”
Watch the video below to hear from one of New York’s few female sushi chefs:
Read the full story at The Guardian.