Since the cult documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi was released three years ago, sushi chef Jiro Ono’s legend has only continued to grow. Case in point: Obama dined at his tiny temple of sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro while in Tokyo last year, and his humble apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa recently became a star in NYC. It’s safe to say that Jiro-san has obtained GAWD status.
Another culinary legend of our time, Noma chef René Redzepi, sat down with Jiro-san to talk everything from fame to retirement. The chefs’ conversation reveals that Jiro is, more or less, the Kobe Bryant of sushi.
Redzepi asks, “When did Jiro feel he was a master?” Jiro’s answer: 50 years. When Redzepi asks if, in those 50 years, he ever wanted to stop making sushi, Jiro replies, “No, never. The only question was, ‘How can I get better?”
Here are the best lines from René Redzepi and Jiro Ono’s conversation.
On Always Striving for More
“The person who has hit 60 or 70 and has achieved what they originally set out to do will never say ‘That’s enough.’ They’ll keep looking for the next step, the next goal. I can assure you, humans are like that.”
On Liking Your Job
“I have said before that you must like your job. If you start saying: ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘This isn’t the job for me,’ you won’t become an expert in anything. If you’ve taken on a job or career, you need to like it and continue moving forward. Young people today say they are great, but when it comes to work, they don’t compare to previous generations.”
“If you don’t learn to love your work and remind your brain to make new steps everyday, there can be no progress.”
“There is a lot of failure before that,” says Jiro-san about the years spent working, prior to becoming a master at 50. “You go through failures and successes, and more failures for years until it feels like you have achieved what you had in mind the whole time.”
“René, you must sometimes think about your retirement, and what you need to achieve to get to that point. However, when you reach that age and have completed your job, something new will come up. You’ll think to yourself: ‘What can I do now?’ You won’t quit.”
“The people who are truly at the top won’t say that they want to retire after 70 or 80. They just fasten their belts after that.”
On Getting to The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
“It’s a secret, well, maybe not a secret, but Jiro-san wants to make sushi until the next Tokyo Olympics.”