Discussion with Sushi Aoki’s second master,
Toshikatu Aoki

We held a discussion with Mr. Aoki who is Sushi Aoki’s master,
a high-end restaurant at Nishiazabu in Tokyo on Thursday,
April 14. The largest classroom in the school was crowded with full of students.

Is a strict apprentice system getting old?

We can imagine that a strict apprentice system traditionally exists in sushi restaurants.

Most of our students nodded in agreement

Mr. Aoki said, “We think that each staff is one of our ‘team Aoki” member and try to make a good atmosphere.

If they watch out for a master too much, they can’t say what they should tell indeed. That must prevent a restaurant from improving and customers.

We try to share anyone’s ideas regardless of their age and that must improve our restaurant. As a result, it will please customers.   

In the past, it takes long time to go on a sushi counter since starting their training.

Yet, I try to make staff debut as early as possible in my restaurant.

Therefore, it would make them have confidence and stimulate the other staff.

Actually, now a sushi chef who is 23 years old serves sushi to customers in my restaurant.

He always never fails to make an effort in order not to get claims from customers because of his young age.”

Sushi chefs are appreciated overseas.

Mr. Aoki advised students who don’t know how many years they should train in Japan before starting working abroad.

Mr. Aoki said, “Graduating from Tokyo Sushi Academy paves the way to do well at the restaurant site.

What is most important thing is not how many years you are training.   

How much skills and how much confidence you have are the most essential.

Now, there are lots of chances for anyone who can make sushi overseas.

That means sushi and Japanese cuisine draw much attention around the world.

Also, there are many ingredients which we don’t have in Japan.

Try to pursue tasty food of your own accord all over the world.

Then, we are waiting for hearing from you in Japan.”

What is a sushi chef actually?

“Sushi chef’s job is not only making sushi.

Conversation with customers is also important while trying to keep them at a moderate distance.

Sushi toppings might be changed according to what the customer wants and his or her physical condition known by the conversation.  

Those things are required to sushi chef.  

Considering what and how to serve tastier dish is quite essential, of course.

I also try to create a new menu item once a month.

Whenever customers tell me ‘This is superb!’, I feel I am a winner.

Thus, every day I learn many things from customers by building good relationships with them.

As far as I saw his wonderful smile, I can’t believe he is spending hectic days.

I heard he is trying physical training such as jogging with his staff

every morning and also joining Tokyo marathon every year.

As a sushi chef works just in front of customers,

physical strength is also important not to show fatigue to them.

Thank you for your time and great consideration.