Jiro Ono is a Japanese chef who is credited by food artisans, contemporaries and critics as the greatest sushi craftsman alive. He is the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin-starred internationally renowned Japanese sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Even at 91, his dedication towards making the best sushi is rock solid. Having started working in a restaurant at the age of seven, till date Ono leaves no stone unturned in his attempts to better his craft. Even after seven decades of professional cooking, Ono maintains his daily routine—rising early in the morning and doing the exact same thing as he did yesterday and the day before. He turned the reputation of his modestly located restaurant into one of global fame and recognition. Sukiyabashi Jiro is credited for providing the greatest sushi meal on Planet Earth and much of the credit goes to Jiro Ono who has relentlessly worked hard in perfecting his art. He is recognized for innovating methods used in modern sushi preparations. From the texture and flavour of the raw ingredients used, to the temperature at which the rice accompanied with sushi is served, Ono keeps a check of everything. He is truly a global icon of sushi shokunin!
Childhood & Early Life
Jiro Ono was born on October 27, 1925 in the city of Tenryu (present-day Hamamatsu) in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
At the age of seven, he started working at a local restaurant. Two years later, he left home for Tokyo to study as an apprentice.
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In 1951, Jiro Ono became a qualified sushi chef. He has been making sushi ever since. After years of apprenticeship and working for professional restaurateurs, Ono opened his own restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in Ginza, Tokyo in 1965.
Despite being located in the underground corridor near a Tokyo subway station, Sukiyabashi Jiro has a global reputation for serving the most precious sushi meal a human being can hope to savor. At a time, it seats not more than ten people, reservations of which are needed to be made at least three months in advance.
At Ono’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, there is no menu as the dishes are selected by Ono himself. A standard meal, roughly covering 20 courses, at the restaurant costs anywhere from $300 to $400 per person.
Over the course of his lifetime, Ono’s Sukiyabashi Jiro has become the finest and the greatest sushi restaurant in the world. It has three Michelin stars to its credit and a long list of loyal fans including current PM of Japan Shinzo Abe, former USA President Barack Obama, world-renowned chefs Joel Robuchon of Taillevent and Ferran Adria of El Bulli, and Hollywood bigwigs Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman.
In the late 2000s, American film director David Gelb along with famed food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto dined at Ono’s restaurant. Initially intending to make a documentary on sushi, by compiling the work of different sushi chefs and their different styles, Gelb changed his mind after the meal. Such was the huge impact of the dish served to him that he decided that the documentary would be about Ono and none other.
Released in 2011, Gelb’s ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ was about Ono’s continuing quest to perfect the art of sushi making. It debuted in the US at the Provincetown International Film Festival and was an official selection to the Tribeca Film Festival the same year. The film was positively received and grossed more than $2.5 million in North America alone. The film has been ranked 70th of all US Documentaries on Box Office Mojo.
Jiro Ono’s claim to fame has been his art of sushi making. Renowned as the greatest sushi chef in the world, Ono’s trademark style and his authentic sushi cuisine has taken the world by storm. His dedication is impeccable and the same can be seen in his dishes served. His flagship restaurant, though a modest place despite its world-renowned fame, has earned three Michelin stars and is slated as the best sushi restaurant in the world.
Awards & Achievements
Jiro Ono’s flagship restaurant was thrice awarded the Michelin star. Though Ono’s restaurant has been bestowed with the highest Michelin ranking (Michelin does not provide four stars), his dedication towards his art is doctrinaire. Even at 91, Jiro Ono still strives to make better sushi every day.
Personal Life & Legacy
Not much is known about Jiro Ono’s personal life except for the fact that Ono has two sons, Yoshikazu Ono and Takashi Ono, both of whom are also sushi chefs. His elder son, Yoshikazu works under Ono at their flagship restaurant and is likely to take over the reins of Sukiyabashi Jiro after his father.
His younger son Takashi manages his own Michelin two-star restaurant located at Roppongi Hills in Minato, Tokyo. It is a mirror image of his father’s flagship restaurant.