Sunday, 30 June 2013

Documentary Sunday - Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Sunday's are lazy, so why not take the time to sit down, relax and open your mind to exciting new worlds of knowledge, intrigue and opinions.

It should be made very clear that I do not like Sushi in any way and yet I consider this documentary to be one of the most fascinating and visually triumphant food documentaries I have ever seen. It also made me feel very very hungry afterwards, so I would advise not watching on an emprty stomach.

Jiro Ono owns and operates a small sushi restaurant (it seats about 8 people) in a Tokyo subway. The catch? The restaurant is one of the greatest in the world when it comes to sushi, it is the only of its kind to have been awarded three Michelin stars and Jiro himself is regarded as the greatest ever modern sushi chef.

The documentary is a window into the life of this extraordinary man and the methods that brought him too where he is today. We get a brief glimpse at his childhood and the childhood of his sons but for the most part, we see Jiro in his natural environment - the kitchen. And it is magnificent to watch. The food preparation is captured in such a way that it almost feels like a form of art; the frame-rate slowed down a bit to give you a real glimpse into each technique.

But this is all about Jiro and his legacy. We learn that his ambition to become the best only is from continuous practice and improvement, and that the day he dies will be when he is at his greatest. This aim for perfection has had a noticeable toll on his personal life (he refuses to take holidays and only takes time off for important personal events, such as funerals) and those of his sons, the eldest works in the same restaurant while the younger one runs his own, slightly less well acclaimed sushi restaurant.

The documentary is accompanied, musically, by some select works of Philip Glass and the result is a magical visual and audio feast that locks you in. Adding Glass' works to just about anything is guaranteed to make it better but it works as it adds an extra layer of depth; Glass' repetitive melodies almost mimic Jiro's repetitive outlook on life and work and it makes the experience even more immersive to watch.

Who Does it Appeal To?
Food lovers (especially of the raw fish variety) will find themselves salivating within the first few minutes. But there is a lot more than just images of good food, particularly in the way of life Jiro has adhered to. He has dedicated his life to work to the point where his life is his work and he has been rewarded immensely for it, and this is fascinating to watch as a westerner because this is a work ethic that none of us are used to (truthfully, how many of us like our jobs).

What to Take Away From It?
Only from complete dedication can you achieve to become the very best you can. It comes at a heavy price, and you will never be satisfied, but people will respect you for it.
That and I've never seen sushi look this good.

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