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You can become a sushi apprentice without any prior formal training. Learning directly from a skilled sushi chef is the quickest way to master the basic skills of safe sushi preparation. A hard-working and dedicated sushi apprentice can provide a helpful set of hands to the busy sushi chef. Locate and approach a sushi chef whose work you appreciate and respect to begin your apprenticeship and add to your understanding of the cuisine.
Visit sushi restaurants in the area and sit at the bar directly in front of the sushi chefs. Interact with one or more sushi chefs by responding to their greetings with polite conversation.
Request the "omakase," or chef's choice meal, from the sushi chef. They may ask you for a price range or how many times you have been to the restaurant to determine the contents of the custom meal. This selection shows trust and respect to the sushi chef while providing an opportunity to show off a variety of the freshest and best sushi items.
Tell the sushi chef what items you are enjoying from the "omakase" and thank them for their work. Show your experience and understanding of sushi preparation by making intelligent observations about the sushi's quality and artistry.
Ask the sushi chefs who the best or most experienced sushi maker is at the restaurant. Let this person know that you are seeking a sushi apprenticeship and outline your experience, knowledge and availability.
Explain your reasons for seeking the apprenticeship and make the passion you have for sushi evident to the head sushi chef. Some training programs start out with the apprentice learning to wash dishes and scrub floors for a few months. These skills are important to running a clean sushi restaurant but they also test the dedication of the apprentice.
Tip directly to the sushi chefs to make sure they know you appreciated the meal. Most sushi bars have a tip bowl for the sushi chefs so they avoid touching the money and soiling their hands. These people may be future coworkers and giving them money starts the relationship on a good note.
Continue the search until you find a head sushi chef that is willing to give you an apprenticeship with an acceptable schedule and terms. Some apprentices serve under a few well-trained sushi chefs before they find the right fit for their personal learning style and begin to thrive in the industry.
Dress like the employees dress to send a psychological cue that you belong. Appearance should be clean and well kept so the chef can visualize you in the apprentice position. Many sushi chefs avoid shaking hands while at work to keep them clean. Lower your head to bow slightly in the Japanese tradition when greeting or acknowledging a sushi chef.