Jiro Ono is widely celebrated as the ultimate sushi chef, continuing to hone his art at 90 years old. He was the subject of the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. (it’s on Netflix.)
In the video below, he has a conversation with René Redzepi, a world-class Danish chef of almost exactly my age. It is clear to me that art is art: whether sushi-making arranging, painting, or dancing. Enjoy a few of Jiro-san’s insights.
On getting better:
“If you don’t learn to love your work and remind your brain to make new steps every day, there can be no progress.”
How do you balance tradition and innovation?
“Innovation is good if what it creates is tastier than what existed before…. If you are doing something new, it has to be an improvement on what came before.”
When did Jiro feel that he was a master?
“Let’s say it’s 50. There is a lot of failure before that. You go through failures and successes, and more failures for years until it feels like you have achieved what you had in mind for the whole time.”
In those years between 8 & 50, did he ever want to stop?
“No. I never considered that question. The only question was, ‘how can I get better?’”
On the struggle to mastery:
Jiro to Redzepi: “You are stubborn, right? If you aren’t a strong-willed person, you can’t get to this.”
Jiro’s son interjects, “And you are sensitive, too.”
Jiro: “Both have to be there to become like this.”
The entire video is well-worth the twelve minutes. I especially enjoyed the end, when Jiro laughed at Redzepi for thinking he will retire someday.
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