The only sushi dish that requires a license to prepare is Fugu. Made from the potentially lethal tropical fish, Takafugu, Fugu contains poisonous neurotoxins which must be removed carefully before being served. Chefs only obtain their license after an extensive apprenticeship and the completion of both a practical and written test.
Apart from Fugu, there are no other licensing requirements for sushi chefs. However, any budding Japanese Sushi Itamea must undergo intensive on-the-job training and serve an apprenticeship, before being allowed to prepare sushi and serve it to the public. In the West, professional courses are widely available. However, these are intended to provide guidance and do not count as a genuine Sushi qualification. To obtain such an accolade requires experience – and lots of it.
Sushi training, whether in the West of Far-East covers areas like food handling, correct use of utensils, kitchen operations and the development of professional standards. In Japan, training usually takes the form of an apprenticeship. Once completed to a satisfactory standard, the apprentice is then promoted to the role of Wakita, which translates as ‘Near to the cutting board’.Following further training as a Wakita, the apprentice may then be appointed as a fully-qualified Sushi Itamea. It’s an exacting process that provides a thorough grounding in a highly-skilled process.
Western approaches to Sushi preparation can be learnt through courses and professional training programs with some offering work-placements upon completion. This provides students with invaluable on-the-job training and experience. These courses teach the fundamentals of Sushi preparation and are intended to helps students master techniques and skills that are in some cases very different to those practised in the West.
So Fugu is the only dish that requires some sort of certification. However, your average Sushi chef will have gone through extensive training, before being entrusted with the preparation of Japan’s most famous dish.