December 7, 2015 9:47 am

The Myths of Women Can’t be Sushi Chefs


Who doesn’t love Sushi? This traditional food from Japan is one of the world’s best food that people should eat. But when was the last time you saw a woman behind a sushi counter? Many people have never encountered such a sight in all their years of sushi eating. Is that true that women can’t be Sushi Chefs?

Infossible_Women-Can't-Be-Sushi-Chefs-5Behind its magnificent taste, there are several myths behind the person who make sushi. It may come as a surprise to those who are just realizing this now, that there is a Japanese belief which said that sushi chefs must be a man.

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In Japan, women aren’t traditionally trained to become sushi masters. The myths said that woman can’t be sushi chefs for certain reason. There is no legitimate reason why women can’t be Sushi Chefs, but some old wives’ tales spread out across Japan and beyond about women can’t be Sushi Chefs. Not a racist, but it’s just the cultural norm in Japan, which said that the sushi made by men taste better and have higher quality than sushi made by women. Let’s see the reason why women can’t be Sushi Chefs as cited from the Wall Street Journal as below :

Women’s hands are warmer than man

Sushi consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. It is often prepared with raw seafood and should be fresh to keep the delicious taste. The myths about women’s hands are warmer than man definitely makes women can’t be Sushi Chefs, because they would not be able to serve fresh Sushi with that warm hands.

Infossible_Women-Can't-Be-Sushi-Chefs-1Well, unfortunately that is a false myth. As published in National Geographic, University of Utah researchers found that women’s hands run 2.8°F colder than men’s hands, as shown in the above picture. So women can’t be Sushi Chefs because their hands warmer than man is totally false.

Women have smaller hands

Another reason why women can’t be sushi chefs is because women have smaller hands. That will mess up the size of the nigiri (mound of rice upon which the fish is placed). Well, not all women have a small hand. In fact there are also a man who has small hands. It only matters on how often they practice to make sushi to get used to it.

Nowadays there are nigiri molds which can ensure every size of nigiri perfectly. Those molds are not that expensive and easy to use as shown on picture above (click here to get the triangle nigiri rice mold or here for the rectangular nigiri rice mold). So there is no more reason that women can’t be Sushi Chefs because they have smaller hands.

Women can’t handle the work

Sushi involves hard labor, including gutting and slicing fish, working long hours and taking the last train home. It takes a special person to tackle breaking down giant Bluefin tunas with sharp knives all day.

It’s true, it requires a really strong woman to work in the kitchen, especially as a Sushi Chef. But it doesn’t mean there is no women that capable enough to be Sushi Chefs.

Women wear makeup and perfume

These interfere with olfactory senses when preparing sushi. Totally true, that make up and perfume are not allowed to use for those people who work in the kitchen. It is strongly related to the food hygiene.

Hispanic woman applying lipstick in compact mirrorBut the point is not women can’t be Sushi Chefs, but more precisely if it says that women are prohibited to wear any make up and perfume if they’d like to work as Sushi Chef.

Women menstruate

In an interview with the Wall Street Joournal, Yoshikazu Ono, the son of Jiro Ono who runs the three-starred Michelin restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, says:

“The reason is because women menstruate. To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs.”

This reason might be right. Based on research about Changes in Taste and Food Intake during the Menstrual Cycle as published by Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, the present study suggests that there are changes in the sour taste perception in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Infossible_Women-Can't-Be-Sushi-Chefs-8Among 4 tastes (Sweet, bitter, acid and salty) that has been studied, the acid taste was the only that had its perception changed, with reduced sensitivity during woman menstrual cycle. It was also founded that the concentrations of hormones estrogen and progesterone might affect the sensitivity for sweet, bitter, and salty.

Stepping aside from the thought of “women can’t be Sushi Chefs” traditions, this unprecedented sushi restaurant is breaking into Japan’s male-dominated sushi world by having women to run the show.

Chef Yuki Chizui,24, serves customer at Nadeshico Sushi in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.  ( Photo / KO SASAKI for The Wall Street Journal )Nadeshico Sushi located in a side street in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. Behind the counter at Nadeshico Sushi, young women dressed in traditional Japanese Happi coats, rolled, cut and served sushi while smiling and chatting with their customers. As reviewed by BBC, Yuki Chizui  – the female Sushi Chefs and Manager of the restaurant spent six years patiently observing the sushi chefs from afar before finally getting the chance to realise her dream. The owner of Nadeshico Sushi, Kazuya Nishikiori hoped to capitalize on the neighborhoods “cute girl” culture and give women an equal opportunity by creating a female-run sushi place.

Infossible_Women-Can't-Be-Sushi-Chefs-2Although Nadeshico Sushi may seem like a novelty, the women who work there are serious about their jobs. No matter the challenges, they will always push the restaurant’s message of, “Of course, girls can do it, too”.