I love sushi -- it's not just a meal to me, but rather an event. There is a level of pageantry that goes along with sitting down for dinner at a truly exceptional sushi establishment -- one where, for me at least, money is not an option if you have it to spend. The experience is always elevated when you put your tastebuds in the hands of a master sushi chef. You defer to him; trusting that he will take care of your palate.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is not simply a documentary about food, however. It is the story of a grand tradition, in a career where apprenticeships can last for many decades, and the lineage of a family that lives and dies by their love and care of fish. Jiro Ono is 85, the owner and master sushi chef of a Michelin Guide, three star-rated sushi restaurant in a a Tokyo subway. Jiro's has no intention of slowing down after 75 years in the career he loves.
His son, Yoshikazu, waits patiently for the day when he will have to take up his father's mantle, not only honoring the high standards and methods of his father, but elevating himself by stepping out of Jiro's long shadow.
In all of this there is an acute awareness in Jiro and his family that their edible craft is on the verge of vanishing, with the threat of over-fishing upsetting the delicate ecological balance that keeps their way of life alive. Director David Gelb weaves this fact into the story of family and food in a delicate but firm way, never beating the audience over the head with it.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi has been one of my favorite films of the festival, and you can experience the documentary for yourself when it becomes available in the US come March 9. Until then, head to your local sushi restaurant -- and remember, eat sustainable. Tuna will totally appreciate it.