Sushi: The Naked Truth, part three

Before we opened in January, I had my whole core team working with me, training at the restaurant in Eau Claire. I knew with all of the bad habits and the lack of outside chefs in the twin cities area it would be best not to hire locally and have to correct bad habits. I’m not saying there are not good chefs in the area, but the top chefs are already employed at good establishments — such as Nami’s, Origami’s, and Fujiya — and out of respect of the owners I would not try to steal their chefs.

However, as business grows and you need to hire it’s tough to train a chef ground up when you are short handed. I buckled and hired a local chef that had experience and could work under me. I knew it would be tough as bad habits are hard to break, but this experience opened my eyes even more to how bad some places in the area are cutting corners. On the second day I had asked him to cut down and trim a hamachi (yellow tail) for me as I was swamped at my station. I watched his knife skills. He did well, and in no time the hamachi was broken down. All was good until he handed the hamachi to me!

Shocked, I asked him why he hadn’t trimmed the bloodline completely away? His answer was that most of the places in which he had worked in the area had instructed him not to trim it all away because it’s too expensive! Almost speechless, I trimmed away the remaining bloodline, and told him that we do trim all of it away and discard it. Later in the evening, when it slowed down, I was talking to him about the hamachi, and he told me most places cut up the bloodline and add it to the spicy tuna as a filler so they get a larger yield! NASTY!! The bloodline is a part of some fish that is very strong and fishy and should always be trimmed away and discarded.

He is a good chef, has good knife skills, makes beautiful sushi, but again it all comes down to the dedication and preparation of the establishment. I won’t go into detail on the places that cuts corners, but I assure you that we do not cut corners and some of the places in town like Nami’s, Origami’s, and Fujiya’s also carry on the strict policy of providing only the best.