19. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” - I think it’s fair to say the phrase, “job rotation” does not exist in Jiro Ono’s vocabulary, because this 85-year-old sushi chef has worked in this particular vocation for 75 years.
(Yes, you read correctly. 75 years!)
Owning a modest restaurant in the Tokyo subway system, Jiro not only spent over seven decades making sushi, but worldwide renowned food critics and local patrons agree his sushi is the best they’ve ever tasted.
Director David Gelb’s absorbing documentary showcases this extraordinary individual who mastered his craft through years and years of tenacious discipline and an incredibly strong work ethic.
Gelb’s camera spends precious hours behind the scenes of Jiro’s restaurant as specific trade secrets are not completely revealed, but sushi fans might want to scribble down copious notes.
For example, Jiro explains octopus is naturally a very tough meat, so he and his chefs actually massage the eight tentacled creatures for a painstaking 45-50 minutes.
He also insists making sushi is “creating a union between rice and fish”, but the temperature of each ingredient served is meticulously and distinctly different (warm rice, cold fish).
Gelb captures Jiro’s valuable words of wisdom from the kitchen, but the most rewarding moments are when he captures Jiro's approach and outlook on life.
Of course, we always hear it’s critically important to love what you do, but Jiro presents a living and inspirational example of this belief.
It’s no accident he is arguably the best sushi chef in the world, and also proudly proclaims, “I feel ecstatic all day.”
His two sons - Yoshikazu and Takashi, who are also sushi chefs - strive to be the best and try to fill live by their father's positive, but demanding example, but they also spend time to pause and recognize their father’s mortality.
Yoshikazu says he wishes his dad could make sushi forever, but for now, this remarkable maestro of the kitchen continues to do his work and dream about it at night.
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