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How to Become a Sushi Chef

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"How do you become a sushi chef?" is a question with many answers. The storied, highly flavorful and artistic cuisine dates back more than 1,000 years in Japan, its country of origin. Yet in the United States, the delicate bites can be found everywhere, in both high-end restaurants and local supermarkets. This just goes to show that working as a sushi chef can be an effective way to earn a living, hone the craft and tantalize palates.

The Long Road

True believers interested in finding truth and zen in the art of sashimi -- thin slices of raw fish served on sushi platters -- might travel to Japan to enroll in a sushi training program. Such programs can be pricey -- you would have to include funds to live in Japan while enrolled in a course -- and take years to complete. In a 2013 article about sushi training, "Business Insider" reported that Japan-based sushi-training programs can be grueling. Students must learn to select the freshest seafood for the ultimate customer experience; cook rice to perfection; pair a range of flavors; and mold sushi into eye-pleasing shapes by hand. Instructors often require students to demonstrate skills close to perfection before awarding certificates.

The Short Option

You can also learn the art of sushi making state-side. Some culinary arts programs offer sushi courses, or you may enroll in a program of study at a school specializing in sushi. The difference between a sushi course and a sushi program is the amount of specialized instruction you get to prepare you for the job market, the better option being a specialized sushi training program.

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The Hands-On Approach

It takes being in the right place at the right time to find a sushi chef willing to train you from the ground up. If the idea of an apprenticeship appeals to you, start visiting Japanese restaurants. Strike up conversations with sushi chefs and let them know about your passion for learning the craft. Apply for entry-level sushi jobs if the ads indicate that the employer is willing to train. Then watch and learn.

Be Ready to Demo

Making it through a sushi-training program is only half the battle. Employers will want to be impressed with your skills to take you on as an entry-level sushi chef; they'll also want to know that you can make sushi with ease in front of customers, a requirement of the job. Practice the sushi-making skills you learn and perfect a few techniques. Be ready to whip out your knives and make a few mouth-watering, colorful bites for prospective employers as part of job interviews.

About the Author

Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.

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