Female Sushi Chef Miki Izumisawa is Pushing the Boundaries of Tradition
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Female Sushi Chef Miki Izumisawa is Pushing the Boundaries of Tradition

I’m doing fusion sushi,
that’s why I don’t stick to traditional
sushi rules. Traditional sushi
chefs may look down on my sushi, saying,
you don’t know sushi. Some chefs, you know,
are like, knife. Oh famous. Woah, woah, woah. I don’t care. Your food is ready. Don’t touch the middle
plate, it’s hot. Traditional Japanese
sushi is about preserving an old-fashioned style. Is about preserving
an old-fashioned style. However, if there
is room to grow within this
traditional cuisine, I believe we should try. Catherine! Oh, thank you! This is the Spanish
mackerel. Thank you.
Nice. When I first considered
being a sushi chef
I hadn’t seen any women in the role, which motivated me
to be the first one. I felt like a pioneer. And because that was
the case, when I thought about opening my own
restaurant, I thought, why not only hire women? I have a restaurant. See, it’s
different parts. So, we are the same,
dishwasher and owner, and it’s just we’re
working together. It’s a really well
oiled machine. Yeah.
Everyone has their part and they do it well. And if not, we’ll jump on to any
other part of the line. I have been working here
a little over five years. When I started,
there were the boys. But they just don’t last, especially if
they’re Japanese. Taking orders from
a Japanese woman, they don’t like that. Or if they’re not,
it just. Men are weak. They couldn’t handle
it in this kitchen! You said a foie gras,
right? Yes.
Okay. With the toro. Hai. When I see here,
she’s so dedicated. She has no partner. Like, when I see that, it’s a lot of dedication
and hard work. She sacrificed her,
this is her life. Susan loves to talk
to customers, so that’s her role. And she comes to pick
me up from dinner. I’m liking that. I don’t really
like to talk, I’d rather focus on
making delicious dishes. And Megumi makes
beautiful sushi. I try to create
a workplace where everyone is equal. The people who resonate
with the harmony of this place are the people
who stay. That’s why I don’t do,
you know, you should do! Work! Prepare!
That! That!
That! I don’t do. People have to find
their, you know, something by herself. Then people,
you know, grow. I’m originally from
Fukushima, Japan. I’ve always followed
my intuition, and that’s how I ended up
backpacking in the U.S.. After that, I realized
I wanted to stay, and I would need
a visa sponsor. That’s how I started
working at Sambi of Tokyo, a restaurant
in Downey, California. One day, I got a phone
call asking if I’d like to work as a sushi chef
at the Grammy Awards. It was on that job that
I met Nobu Matsuhisa. While we were working
in the kitchen, Nobu approached me. He said, you will
work for me someday. I immediately said,
thank you very much! At the time, his new
restaurant was opening at the Hard Rock Hotel
in Las Vegas. So I moved to Las Vegas. I was passionate about
working for Nobu, it was my dream
to work with him. Nobu really
looked after me. I didn’t really get along
with the other chefs. Maybe they didn’t like
a woman making sushi, or, I don’t know. My spirit started
to get crushed and I ended up leaving
after only one year. Honestly, at the time
I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do. But my friend told me,
Miki, you can do it. I visited Laguna Beach
in 2000, and I thought, I can start my own
restaurant here. A friend of mine dragged
me to a tattoo parlor. I chose my favorite
symbol, a yin-yang. That’s what I
had tattooed on my upper back. Three months after I
opened my restaurant, I was walking along
the sidewalk and in front of the park next
door I was amazed to find the exact same mark
in the concrete. To me, this was
a sign that I had come here for a purpose. It was confirmation
that I have a mission to pursue
in this place. When I opened
the restaurant, I realized I wanted to
connect nature and food. Out of all of the rolls I
make, from the beginning, and even now,
one of my most popular rolls has been
the Laguna Canyon roll. In 1993, there was a massive
wildfire in Laguna Beach. It was a tragedy,
but it inspired me. I was making a roll and
I noticed, laid in two rows,
it looked like a canyon. I sensed a connection. When I’m making the roll, I sprinkle it
with fish eggs. Then I use my torch
to sear the top, Then I use my torch
to sear the top, and the fish eggs make
a sizzling sound. After that,
the rain falls and the plants
are rejuvenated. In the same sense,
people can grow stronger. I tried to express all
of that in the roll. Inspiration comes
from awareness. I make myself open to
receiving messages. Hiking is the same, the low impact exercise
helps me think. I can clarify my thinking
about new dishes. And as I’m walking,
I’m surrounded by nature. I look up at the clouds,
for example. Look, it’s changing! That cloud is turning
into a heart. When I’m taking
pictures… I often notice heart
shapes in nature. Another one. Hello, heart-san! I wish everyone could
see nature the way I do. I think there is
a meaning in the shapes I see. I’m very happy that I’m
here today to see this. Thank you, nature. When I go out there I
become more creative. I take pictures to save
the messages I receive. I am devoted to my
photography and I don’t want to
keep it to myself, I want to share
it with everyone. I draw inspiration from
the photos I take and turn it into dishes to
serve my customers. Ever since I started
making fusion sushi I have felt like I
need to do something to differentiate my food. When it comes to cutting
the fish, honestly, I wish I could have
the fishmonger do it. I can shape,
I can cut, but really the whole
process is a grind. The time I would spend
doing this could be better spent
inventing new dishes. My boss teach to
me this recipe, so I started out
using this one. Yeah, it’s from Japan. But now I’m just thinking
about a little change, maybe add vinegar or
something like that. I’m not picky
about anything. I’m doing fusion sushi. I work with
an international staff, I have customers from
different countries. That’s why I don’t
stick to traditional sushi rules. Every day there’s
something new. And every day she’s like,
oh, I wake up, I thought of this. And she’ll come
in like wait, wait, look, this is
what I thought of. There’s more than 100
items on the menu cause Miki is so fusion
and all the sauces that are made here are made
with a French style. I have 47 sauces
I use regularly. Unfortunately I can’t
fit them all here, so this is just
a portion of them. For example,
this is a green sauce. Then there’s a mango
flavored sauce. This is the first
sauce I ever made. I use it for many things. This is the purple sauce
for my Jacaranda dish, which will turn
pink on the plate. I use them all to achieve
a variety of different plating techniques. Thank you! When we first opened, of course we served soy
sauce with our dishes. But my customers were
all drowning their sushi in it. So the dishes I was
working hard to create all ended up
tasting the same. And it wasn’t healthy,
either. So, I wanted to put
a stop to it, but I had to think of
a way to do it. I decided to create
sauces with flavors that complimented my sushi,
with flavors that complimented my sushi,
and added them to the dishes
before serving them. That seemed to me
a good way to do it. Thank you so much! Thank you, guys. Bye. Have a good night. Thank you. Sushi found me, and that’s why I
became a chef. All my life, I’ve never
chosen my own path. And in the future, I’m sure the same
will hold true. When I keep my mind open
I can receive messages from the world around
me that guide me and lead me to take action. That’s what happened
when I became a chef. I had a chance to learn
to make sushi when there weren’t any female
sushi chefs, so I realized I needed
to become one.

About Earl Carter

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100 thoughts on “Female Sushi Chef Miki Izumisawa is Pushing the Boundaries of Tradition

  1. I am 100% visiting her restaurant next time! You're amazing! Miki you're my hero! I've worked in male dominated fields, IT and engineering, in Asia for over ten years. There's just one reason why many men ignore and dislike women in these fields. They want all the money to themselves to buy women's affection with. I was sad to hear that her spirit was almost crushed by such people, and thrilled she opened her own restaurant. Women make great master chefs, and superb cooks.

  2. I like the part where she says that they work like a well oiled machine. That every part of it has its place, so that way they can make the best of it.

  3. I frequent 242 Fusion often. The dishes are all unique. Miki and the rest of the her team do really well at presenting a great dish with really good balance of flavor and beauty. Glad to see her recognized here.

  4. Wow – I'm usually a stickler for old tradition but I love the way this woman is pushing forward the sushi game. This is like a French Japanese fusion.

  5. Men are better cooks. I don't care what female activists thinks. All the time when a woman cook its always so dry and plain. Also they won't lift heavy things.

  6. Innovation is one thing but the result is another. Like in 9:00 and 9:14 it doesn't seem appetising at all; 9:02 and 9:08 the thin sauce around the sushi loosens the rice and some rice just fall away from the sushi. This is a sign of failure in any sushi. Yes, fushion sushi can be good and is a healthy phenomenon in parallel with traditional ones. She just has a lot to improve. And she'd rather have a fishmonger to handle the fish? C'mon it's not how it works! Re-think about your food and your attitude on them!

  7. I think the development and the culture of fusion sushi is very interesting, much more interesting than traditional sushi.

  8. Touching story, but her sushi looks absolutely nasty. 8:57 – pictures on the menu and 9:00 says it all – looks like someone vomited on the plate! 10:25 47 sauces?!? I guarantee half of them are rarely used and going rancid (just look at how little is left inside of those bottles). She keeps her "purple sauce" in a broken coffee mug… real professional.

  9. People she is not feminist, feminist are those women who make our life miserable and a 90% of the reason of why our games are censored, it is kind of funny how many of those activist women claim that it is for the children when they dont have one.

  10. this place is sexist. how can she hire only women. this violates the employment discrimination law of US

  11. you bitches bitch about equality then you go and open a sushi restaurant which only employs women. go fuck yourself

  12. 海外で伝統的である必要は無いと思うがさすがに紫のソースは怖くみえる…w

  13. To be honest, Looks like a plate of vomit of customers who just had nigiri from a proper sushi restaurant. Here is your $10 vomit of sushi from previous customer AHHAHAHHAHH !!!!

  14. あなたのお寿司を食べてみたいです。

  15. Was with you till that dumb broad said men are weak. No honey you are. That kitchen is all women which leads me to believe it's a bunch of self important strong victims who don't realize the fact that you have your own place and can make a video means you made it. Hope it's good cause it's all you'll have if you continue to think that way

  16. The dishes look dreadful. Why cant she keep the sushi ethics, and keep it simple. The flavors look complex and drenched in sauce… This isnt what sushi is about.

  17. I've never eaten in this restaurant but after watching this video, I could understand why other Japanese chefs weren't happy to work with her. Her sex doesn't matter, she just cannot work as a sushi chef. The place looks like a mess, and a sushi restaurant should be immaculate, as clean as a surgery room. The food doesn't look good at all, and definitely it's not sushi, call it whatever you like but not sushi. She treated that fish vary badly, and she admitted she would prefer to have the job done by the fishmonger: it's a terrible attitude toward the most important skill of a sushi chef. Becoming a sushi chef is a very long and hard journey, sometimes described as an ordeal in the most traditional sushi restaurant in Japan. It's not for everybody, so don't blame the sex.
    I don't want to be the usual hater, Izumisawa san looks undoubtedly very cute, and she must be a nice person. But her place is not a sushi restaurant, it's rather a strange izakaya.

  18. She has a fusion sushi restaurant,people know it's not traditional, if they enjoy her food they will come back, if they didn't then they will go some place else, I commend her for doing what she likes to do. I personally like a traditional sushi restaurant,as the chef there will also give his personal touch to his creations ,there is always room for improvement and a strive for perfection to achieve this in ones lifetime is called "success " and I hope she is successful .⛩

  19. whatsoever the story,as long as its sushi….i will eat them!
    and her destiny tobe in that place,i will come to her soon.n pray on that beach

  20. When a notable male chef tells a woman, "Someday you will work for me," it would always be an Asian that would understand it being a high compliment and return with a, "Thank you, chef!" Generally, any other born or bred American female would take offense. This woman's humility and creativity got her to where she is. Even Morimoto says, "I have only one rule" (regarding sushi) "there are no rules." Some think it's blasphemous but why? All food culture evolves. If it's not good, it falls by the wayside. It doesn't have to be trendy to be good. While I tend to love very traditional sushi myself, it would be an honor to taste this woman's sushi. Not because the woman made the sushi. But because sushi made the woman. Props to her! Love this video!

  21. 2:46 and yet no men is allowed to work there hehe… maybe they can idk just saying out loud a thought

  22. I wonder if Nobu did anything to try to keep her at his restaurant in Las Vegas? Her sushi looks different and awesome.

  23. Who and why bad Rating . ( Onryō / 女龍 )
    Because there are People who have an IQ intelligence Quotient of Horse .
    I'm sorry Horse , you are evolutionarily a wiser, better Character than these stupid Humans

  24. She is a very nice lady and i'm sure alot of ppl love her food. She'd be chase out of Japan if she opens restaurant there. Not because of sexism, but she's doing things that aren't considered "good" ways of sushi.

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