Currently there is no sushi chef license or certificate offered by the state, federal government, or any organization to qualify the sushi chef’s techniques and knowledge in handling sushi rice and raw fish. This means anyone can get a job as a sushi chef, no matter if he or she has any knowledge or understanding of sushi. In fact, there are many inexperienced chefs working in sushi restaurants. It is doubtful that these chefs can serve sushi and sashimi safely to the customers without any skills and knowledge.
Customers will consider the restaurant unsafe and dangerous because of the possibilities of being served contaminated food, which can cause foodborne illnesses that might have severe financial consequences to the restaurant and the customers wellbeing. That is why we consider this instruction essential and we make sure that our graduated students understand the importance of safe raw food handling.
It is a concern that not all sushi restaurants serve raw fish safely. Today, Japanese food, including sushi, is getting more and more popular. Many people have been attracted to the idea of becoming sushi chefs, and it is a dangerous decision to handle raw fish without the right knowledge. People who think it’s easy to make sushi by seeing and copying what a sushi chef is doing across the counter are putting in grave danger both the restaurant and the customer.
There is a 5 year certification called SERVESAFE sponsored by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) that proves a chef’s understanding in the details of hygiene and sanitation. However, this program does not give enough information about Sushi, Sashimi and raw fish. That is why we enforce this knowledge in our students through our different programs.
In May 2010, Chef Andy Matsuda gave a lecture about the popularity of sushi to the FDA and Health Department as a representative of sushi chefs at the Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference in Colorado. The purpose was to minimize the problem of unsafe food being served by inexperienced chefs. A program that provides chefs with Sushi Safety Study Program will become an important part of all Sushi chef’s curriculum.