American filmmaker David Gelb’s first feature length documentary is an educational insight into the skill and discipline of sushi preparation, a craft that not many of us are familiar with in the west. In Japan, 86 year old sushi chef Jiro Ono is a culinary legend, a man so devoted and focused on his work who has been seeking perfection in his craft for over 70 years. He runs a small immaculate 10 seater restaurant called Sukiyabashi Jiro in the Ginza district of Tokyo which is reputed to make the best Sushi in the world earning him three Michelin stars.
Jiro is a workaholic and takes the utmost care and precision with preparing the sushi before serving and insists his trainee chefs undertake a tough ten year apprenticeship under his supervision. He is a strict perfectionist but also works in a state of calmness which is fascinating to watch. His two sons who are almost as good as Jiro and have worked in the restaurant virtually all their lives are frustrated with their father’s lack of desire to retire, thus the youngest son has no choice but to open another Sushi restaurant in the fashionable area of Roppongi. However Jiro trusts both his sons to source the best quality fish daily from the local fish market and he samples all the sushi before serving every day until it tastes exactly right.
This is an informative piece of filmmaking and one cannot help but feel that you have learnt something by watching this well executed and enlightening documentary. The score mostly comprising of compositions by Philip Glass adds a sophisticated tone.
Even if you’re not into eating fish at all or, like many, morally concerned about the long term effects of the amount of overfishing in the ocean due to mass sushi and fish consumption globally, Gelb’s documentary is essentially an accolade to a man you cannot help but admire, a man who has come from nothing and by sheer hard work, by loving and devoting his life to his craft has become very successful is nothing short of inspiring.