Japan: the cook who challenges sexism with sushi
Japan: the cook who challenges sexism with sushi

Yuki Chizui, 29, at the helm of the Nadeshiko Sushi, unique Tokyo restaurant with solo female chefs, he took all the prejudices of the prevailing sexism in his country and turned them into a universal, modern, attractive discourse on the nation's symbolic plate, the sushi.

Which is not exclusively male territory although its preparation, an artistic and symbolic ritual that expresses years of research and improvement, is in the collective imagination the prerogative of male cooks only.

An idea consolidated over the years by the abuse of clichés: according to Kazuyoshi Ono, son of a Japanese legend like chef Jiro Ono, sushi made by women would be worse because of the menstrual cycle which affects the sense of taste.

Other stereotypes concern the body temperature of women, which being higher than that of men would not work with fresh ingredients. Not to mention the cosmetics that interfere with the sense of smell.

But Yuki's restaurant is trying to change things.

In fact, if the classic Shokunin (sushi master) is male, robust and usually bald, more like a wrestler than a cook, the kitchen brigade and staff of Nadeshiko Sushi is made up only of women. And Yuki couldn't be more different from the stereotype: cute, slender and wrapped up in her yukata, a traditional kimono-like outfit.

Not a few Tokyoites are attracted to the restaurant because they believe it is another maid coffee or a place for strippers, very frequent in the transgressive district of Akihabara.

Also for this reason, a measure was necessary, a sign at the entrance to the restaurant inviting customers not to touch the women, not to bother them.

YURI KAGEYAMA STORY; Manager of sushi restaurant
YURI KAGEYAMA STORY; Manager of sushi restaurant
YURI KAGEYAMA STORY; Employee of sushi restaurant
YURI KAGEYAMA STORY; Employee of sushi restaurant

Yuki Chidui has no doubts: women have qualities that men lack. Both in the kitchen and in the art of entertaining customers:

Women communicate better, they know how to relate to customers, creating a welcoming atmosphere. And since our hands are smaller, our sushi is too. This is why it looks better and eating it is easier”.

Sachiko Goto, director of Tokyo Sushi Academy, the school for aspiring sushi chefs in the Japanese capital made up of one fifth of women, praises Yuki and her colleagues, considered pioneers:

"Abroad women are more accepted in professional kitchens, while in Japan they are very few, but when women see positive role models they decide to challenge prejudices".

In the history of Nadeshiko Sushi only once did Yuki have a boy employed by her, albeit for a short time. In a period of staff shortage, the man, a former company manager, ended up in the kitchen working as a dishwasher.

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