Anything You Can Do...

I was chatting with some friends the other day about silly, gender biased rules that really have no merit, and we got talking about why you rarely (if ever) see female sushi chefs. I had always heard it explained (but never bought into the explanation) that this was because women's hands are warmer than mens and not suitable for handling fish. In doing research for this blog, I came across a number of other unfounded explanations such as women wear perfumes or use lotions that will interfere with the flavor of the fish, women cannot use a knife or their hands as adeptly as men and that women cannot handle the rigor of being on their feet all day (that last one makes me laugh aloud each time I read it– particularly after a 10 hour day in the kitchen!)

Not surprisingly, none of those theories are true. What is true is that Japanese culture is often misogynistic (as well as xenophobic) and that, until recently, preparing sushi was considered work suited only for Japanese men. According to a New York Times article written in 2002, however, the tide has begun to turn. In 1999, an Equal Employment Opportunity Law was passed in Japan and this, in addition to lifting restrictions on how late at night a woman is allowed to work, has helped to clear the path for more women to pursue a career in sushi making. The recent rise, and universal acceptance, of professional women chefs in general has certainly helped to open doors as well. According to the article, the number of female sushi chefs in Japan at the time hovered around 200, but surely in the 8 years since the article was written, those numbers have increased.

In the United States, many women are gaining recognition as respectable sushi chefs as with Niki Nakayama at Inaka in Arcadia, CA, Miki Izumisawa at 242 Sushi Fusion in Laguna Beach, CA and Tracy Griffith at Rika in Hollywood.

For further details about women, and non-Japanese men, as sushi chefs, check out the book The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson. In it, Corson follows a number of students through the challenging curriculum at the California Sushi Academy as well as providing interesting details regarding the history and science of sushi making. Another sweet read is Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch. This beautifully illustrated children’s book tells the true story of Hiromi Suzuki, one of the first female, and most highly acclaimed, sushi chefs in New York City. The story is inspirational and a confidence builder for little girls, as well as anybody who has ever felt discriminated against because of their gender.

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
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            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
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            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
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            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
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            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
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            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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