To be an award winning chef, one might not expect to conquer the culinary world in a day – but might expect that years of grueling training would arm them with an impressive repertoire of skills that allow them to create miracles out of any boring food stuff presented to them. In Japan, the opposite abounds. The Japanese seem to have perfected the art of perfection. There are numerous examples where the Japanese pursuit of perfection has far surpassed anyone’s expectations of “reasonable”. Ten years of gruelling training just to qualify as a soba master? Sure. That’s right some Japanese soba masters train for 10 whole years to perfect the art of soba. Apparently a few years are spent learning how to make the dough; a few more to knead the dough; a few are spent learning to cut the noodles and the remainder in cooking them. Ten long years – to perfect just one skill! Similarly, Japanese fugu chefs apprentice for 2 years before they are allowed to take a written and practical exam on how to prepare the deadly fugu puffer fish. For those not in the know – fugu fish contain a deadly neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) that paralyses the central nervous system and victims that die from puffer fish poison die a slow asphyxiating death. So, the fugu fish practical exam apparently “ends” with the student eating their own preparation of fish, and you’d want to be a very confident student to undertake that exam. If that isn’t dramatic enough, if a customer dies from eating a fugu fish master’s preparation, he is traditionally obliged to take his own life.
“Dedication” is a laughable understatement. “Serious”, “Obsessed” and “Neurotic” are perhaps more appropriate descriptors.
With that background it really comes as no surprise that the best sushi restaurant in the world, one awarded 3 Michelin stars has an 85 year old chef at the helm – in fact, he is the oldest Michelin chef alive!
But even with the highest culinary accolade under his belt, Jiro Ono is still seeking the perfect sushi – whatever that may be. Being “old” is clearly a state of mind as this sushi master works around the clock, demanding nothing but the absolute best from himself, his sons and disciples-in-training, his produce and the output of his restaurant. His award winning restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, is a humble 10 seat restaurant hidden in a non-descript Tokyo subway station and is frequented by sushi lovers hailing from all over the world, calling months in advance to get a coveted seat at his table and spending up big for the experience. So important is this man, that Japan has named him a national treasure!
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is David Gelb’s film about Jiro Ono’s obsession and pursuit of the perfect sushi and in parallel shows the struggle of his sons, in particular eldest son Yoshikazu, to shine in his father’s shadow.
I first heard about the film when it opened in New York to rave reviews (including some from 3 Michelin starred chefs) and have been waiting for its release here ever since (review to follow once I’ve seen the film). To celebrate the film’s release on May 10 2012 – I am excited to announce that courtesy of Curious Distribution, I have 5 double passes to give away to readers of The Gourmet Forager!
Note that the film does have a limited release and will only be shown at the following cinemas:
To be in the running to win one of the 5 double passes, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favourite type of sushi is (mine is seared scallop). Easy peasy!
And, the inevitable terms and conditions:
- Entries must include a valid email address to enable contact for prize and posting details (entry into the email field of the comment box is suffice)
- Readers are permitted multiple entries (as long as entries are different) but entry is only open to Australian residents and each reader is only eligible to win one double pass
- Answers will be judged on creative merit
- The double pass is only valid for a limited time from May 10 at the selected cinema locations mentioned above
This is a very short competition as the film is released on May 10 so entries close 10pm AEST Sunday 13th of May 2012 and winners will be announced on Monday 14th May, and will be emailed confirmation of their win. Passes will be posted out within 24 hours of receipt of a postal address from winners. Comment away and good luck to all entrants!
Post edit review: I just saw the film and thought it was remarkably cute and enjoyable – an interesting mix between the camera’s loving adoration of sushi and an equally if not more fascinating insight into the Japanese dedication to mastering one’s chosen skill. Shokunin are titles given to master craftsmen and the pursuit of perfection portrayed in this film is at once both admirable and utterly foreign. I consider myself as one with a strong work ethic, dedication and not one to shy from hard work – but it’s clear I wouldn’t last a millisecond in this environment. The events that have shaped Jiro’s passion, the familial loyalty he expects from his sons and the shokunin training he inflicts on them is explored. Hats off to the shokunin of Japan. But not that they would accept those accolades, as there is palpable humility and restrain in all the characters. Overall a very cute and heart warming film.
The competition is now closed and the winners of the competition were judged by the Co-pilot to be:
Adam, Jo Wong, Chi Master, Aaron Newton and Alex!
Congratulations to all the winners! They will be each contacted for postal details and the passes sent out within 24 hours. If I do not hear from the winners within 5 days, other entries will be selected. Many thanks to all that entered this competition and happy viewing!