Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb – 2011) A-

At Jiro’s sushi shop in Tokyo you spend $300 or more for a sushi meal that lasts the good part of 19 minutes, but that’s not what this documentary is about. It’s about a man, at over 80 years of age,  is still coming to work everyday and who makes pristine sushi – the best in the world. He loves his job and never ever hated coming to work day in and day out. At his old age he is still learning, perfecting and honing his skill. He repeats that line that the best chefs like Thomas Keller know and it probably is what makes them the best: Once you achieve perfection, it’s not longer perfect because you always can do better. The clients who sit at one of Jiro’s 12 or 15 seats might not know if the octopus was massaged with salt 20 minutes or 40 minutes, but he knows and he knows that 45 minutes is even better! It’s the small details that separate the good from the best. That’s what Jiro does, he focuses on the small details to produce excellence.

In the shadow of Jiro we also have his son, Yoshikazu, who by rigid Japanese tradition is supposed to inherit the restaurant and run it. He is probably just as good as Jiro at since he has been doing this for over 30 years, but he is not supposed to open his own place. He seems dutiful running every aspect of Jiro’s business from shopping for the best fish at the Tsukiji market to supervising the apprentices in the shop. He seems stuck at over 50 working in his dad’s place and basically waiting for the old man to die or retire. Jiro is not going to retire.

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