A sushi chef is a food preparation specialist who has been specifically trained to prepare vinegar rice that has a topping of vegetables, meat or fish. Making the rice per traditional Japanese standards often takes many years of training with masters of the art. This specialty chef is also traditionally expected to be an expert at preparing other conventional Japanese dishes, such as ramen, udon, tempura, and gyoza. Skill at cutting raw fish called sashimi is a common prerequisite to become a sushi chef.
Traditional sushi is most often topped with fish. The sushi ingredients may be raw or cooked or a combination of the two. Contrary to popular belief, raw fish served without seaweed or rice is called sashimi, not sushi.
If the chef position is located in the United States, highly-developed skills in preparing maki are often prerequisites to be hired. Maki is a seaweed-wrapped roll popular with Americans who are known for their preference for blended flavors. The most preferred makis are generally believed to be the California Roll and Philadelphia Roll.
In addition to having skills of a sushi bar chef, a sushi chef in a full-service restaurant is commonly required to have knowledge and experience in preparing all varieties of meat, game, seafood and poultry. Her expertise is typically expected to include the successful preparation of mother sauces, stocks and soups. Being able to develop and implement her own recipes or variations of classic recipes is important to the success of the chef.
Besides requiring exemplary culinary talents, a sushi chef is frequently required to train, supervise and manage kitchen personnel. She is also typically required to order perishable and non-perishable food items based on quality and availability. Budget guidelines are generally expected to be followed for these purchases.
Following food safety handling and storage guidelines is imperative to excel in this position. Since the majority of the food served is fresh, if not raw, when served, storage at exact temperatures and in precisely defined environments is essential. Preparation areas, such as counters, grills and cutting boards, are normally particular regions of concern for sanitation.
Education often entails traditional culinary school training coupled with working as an apprentice for a master or senior sushi chef. To be considered for employment as a sushi chef, most Japanese restaurants require extensive training. They also commonly expect the applicant to have solid experience in creative food presentation and sushi rice preparation as well as advanced knife handling skills.