In The Restaurants

From Kaze Chan to Kaze-san, What it takes to become a Sushi Master

From Kaze Chan to Kaze-san, What it takes to become a Sushi Master

Aug 8, 2012

Lettuce Life, a glimpse into the day in the life of our wonderful people who define Lettuce and make us special.

Meet Kaze Chan AKA Kaze-san, Sushi Master at Sushi-san in Chicago’s River North. A dishwasher turned chef, Kaze has worked his way through the ranks to become one of the city’s leading Sushi Masters.

A roll might look like any other roll to you, but behind every great sushi restaurant is a chef that has perfected a strict set of skills, training for years to get to where they are today.

But what does it take to reach the Sushi Master level? Let’s find out.

Kaze’s Background: From Dishwasher to Master

While Kaze was studying architecture, he picked up a part-time dishwashing gig in Boston’s now-defunct Restaurant Suntory, where he formed his love for Japanese cuisine.

With the restaurant’s customers and staff predominately made up of Japanese-only speakers and Kaze’s Chinese background serving as a stark dichotomy between the cultures, he strove to bridge the gap and prove to his colleagues of his interest in exploring the world of sushi.

After repeated attempts (and much rejection) to peer over the Sushi Master’s shoulder he was finally granted access — to watch a chef butcher a fish.

And so his journey began.

Becoming a Sushi Master

While this step-by-step may appear simple, don’t let it fool you — one can’t just waltz right out of culinary school expecting to snag this coveted position. Sushi Masters spend years, sometimes decades, perfecting each step, not graduating to the next phase until it has been quite literally mastered.

Step 1: Clean the fish
No butchering, just cleaning.

Step 2: Cook the traditional rice
This may seem like a simple task, but it is the crux of sushi and a 2½ hour process.

Step 3: Receive the fish
Inspecting the quality is up to standards.

sushi san fish

Step 4: Butcher the fish
A process that usually takes 6 months to complete, Kaze mastered in just 2 months!

kaze butchering at sushi san

Step 5: Maki rolls
Speed is everything here along with 6 crucial steps a proper sushi chef completes in just pressing the rice out.

maki plates from sushi san

Step 6: Nigiri
Cuts of fish pressed over rice. While the Sushi Master would inspect and allow his food to be served, it took 3 years for him to try Kaze’s nigiri.

nigiri of tuni from sushi san

Step 7: Art of Sashimi
The final step is learning how to properly serve sashimi and how to make all of the sauces.

cutting sashimi at sushi-san

Hungry yet? Experience the oma-Kaze, a multicourse meal of pristine fish prepared by the Master himself.

Want more behind the scenes of life at Lettuce? Follow us @LettuceLife on Instagram for exclusive job postings, behind-the-scenes of restaurant openings, events and more.


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