Master Chef Andy Matsuda is founder of the Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles. Born in 1956 in Kobe in Japan, He was raised with a family restaurant business. Chef Matsuda was trained and worked at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Osaka. At the age of 25, he headed for a new challenge in life moving to Los Angeles, California. Along the way, he had worked hotels in major metropolitan cities in the USA and learned other cuisines. At the age of 36, Chef Matsuda faced the biggest challenge of his life; he was diagnosed with Colon Cancer and began the epic battle for his life. Going through 4 years of intensive treatments and self reflection, he began to understand the relationship between food and health; people and environment. Overcoming Cancer, he gained full of appreciation of life and wanted to somehow pay back his depth of gratitude to American society. In 2002, he opened the Sushi Chef training school in downtown Los Angeles. One of the few Sushi schools outside of Japan, he teaches beginners and professional chefs from all over the world. He also works with the California Rice Commission & Norwegian Seafood Council.
1. Sushi Chef Institute is known for being one of the only few certified sushi schools outside of Japan. What was your motivation to opening up the Sushi School in abroad or United State?
Over 17000 Japanese restaurant in US and much more coming in to the world, but less than 5% of these restaurants are owned by Japanese. That means most of the sushi booming world of are owned by Non-Japanese. The world sushi boom is growing without Japanese. The concern is if they know Sushi and safety and is it "tasty sushi?" The realty is not and standards are in decline. It is not right that such a decline can take place. Most of chefs or owners need help and knowledge, but who is able to help them? No one. After my cancer treatment I had a very difficult recovery for my life. I was one of the few with skill and knowledge of sushi. That is why I like to share with everyone my knowledge. American medical and its supports made life possible, so now I can give back by sharing my knowledge to anyone.
2. How important is rice in sushi making?
Sushi is a 70% of portion are sushi rice. Bad sushi rice happens to be a bad business. Sushi rice is a most simple cooking method using rice and water. BUT, there are many secrets. Everyday consistency of the same condition of taste and flavor make success in business.
3. How much time is devoted to the teaching of rice in your class?
Basic understanding and concept of cooking sushi rice minimum 2-3 hours. Everyday keeping the same consistency sushi rice making takes 3 years’ experience.
4. What is the most important key to cooking rice? How do you identify the best cooked rice for Sushi rice?
Choice of rice, season, tools, temperature and all basic practice. When eating Nigiri sushi you feel of cold fish first. You don’t feel much rice, because of as same temperature of the body of sushi rice. It is soft and supports matching the flavor of each fish. Soy sauce and wasabi help both flavor. "Make happy and enjoy the sushi." Best corroboration with fish and sushi rice.
5. Is it hard to find a great quality of Sushi rice in US and how do you tell your students what to look for in selecting the best sushi rice?
Sushi main ingredients are fish not sushi rice. So best matching with fish with sushi rice. That a best sushi rice. How to make a sushi rice for what purpose? Take out or sushi bar or cater. A box sushi or Nigiri or rolls
6. I have seen one of your workshops at NYC. I know you have many classes, but also workshops. What is the most surprising thing that people don’t know about rice. What was your response?
I always ask for Japanese ladies, how do you cook rice? Most people said to put hand in the rice cooker and cover all fingers with the water and start cooking. That’s it. Looks very simple…Then I keep asking few more questions. Are you cooking Gas, or Electric? Are you cook new crop or old crop? Can you cook Brown rice? Do you know how to cook rice at Japan, Thailand, NY or Alaska? Most answers are No. If one is to become a sushi chef, we need to know anywhere how to cook sushi rice with same conditions and consistency. But most chefs do not know either. But, all my graduates are knew it now. That's my education. Be a chef to professional Sushi chef.
7. What is your message to your students about rice?
Sushi could be copied by look, but taste of sushi are not able to copied. Anyone can tell by putting in your mouth whether it isl good or bad. Need to educate and understand all steps by step 1 to 10 about Sushi & fish. Comprehensive story of sushi education to be professional sushi chef. “Rice is such a wonderful ingredient to be used in many Japanese food. Especially, fermented rice could be very important to help a healthy strong body.”