You don’t have to be a chef to appreciate the skill that goes into Japanese cuisine. The precision knife techniques, aestheticism of the finished dishes and masterful seasonal approach to ingredient selection speak to years of chef experience. But everybody needs to start somewhere, and in the U.S. that usually means school. No matter your skill level, there’s Japanese cooking schools out there to help you reach your Japanese cooking goals. Here’s a few of our favorites.
Hyde Park, NY
One of the most revered culinary schools in the United States, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Hyde Park campus needs little introduction. The CIA has produced some of the biggest names in both food service and culinary entertainment. For example, Anthony Bourdain, Grant Achatz, and Cat Cora make up just a few of CIA’s storied alumni.
The CIA operates in California, Texas, Singapore and New York. The New York location at Hyde Park launched their Advanced Japanese Cuisine Initiative in late 2016. Under the initiative, CIA Hyde Park recruited chef Hiroki Murashima of Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka and Japan-ex-pat and chef Martin Matysik to design and implement their intensive Advanced Cooking: Japanese Cuisine course.
Open to CIA juniors and seniors in the bachelor’s program, the practical coursework in Advanced Cooking: Japanese Cuisine includes a heavy emphasis on perfecting knife technique and learning master techniques for crafting classic preparations such as dashi, hand-cut noodles, ramen, sashimi, nigiri and sushi. Theory and non-practical coursework includes the study of Japanese history, kaiseki, knives, techniques, ingredients, washoku and aesthetic.
International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute)
New York City (Soho)
With an alumni as varied and celebrated as that of the CIA — Dan Barber, Bobby Flay and David Chang all studied here — the International Culinary Center, located in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan, offers the stand-alone course Essentials of Japanese Cuisine taught by Japanese chef Hiroko Shimbo.
Essentials of Japanese Cuisine consists of five 5-hour classes over five consecutive days. This intense, technique-driven course packs a lot of practical study into its 25-hour duration — Chef Shimbo covers everything from kaeshi to kombu, along with special focus on sushi, sashimi, tempura, udon and more.
Founded by Japanese master chef Katsuya Uechi, Miyako Sushi and Washoku School focuses on one thing: traditional Japanese cuisine. The Miyako School takes students of all skill levels into their sushi or washoku of California courses.
Miyako’s four-week sushi chef training (five hours a day/five days a week) covers both the traditional Japanese and American-style preparation of rolled sushi, nigiri sushi and sashimi, as well as food safety, sushi chef philosophy and sushi bar management and performance.
Miyako’s two-week washoku of California training (five hours a day/five days a week) focuses on both traditional Japanese washoku and Japanese fusion cuisine. In addition to fusion, topics covered include popular Japanese dishes, knife technique, modern rolls and California cuisine.
Japanese Cooking Schools/ Workshops
Most major metropolitan areas have at least one top-notch Japanese cooking schools or workshop. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a major cultural hub like New York City, you’ll find several. Although there are too many quality Japanese cooking classes out there to list, you can find the best recommendations from former students or, if you have the opportunity, a chef or professional cook you trust.
But if you are in the NYC area, check out Osakana in Brooklyn. Osakana is a full-service Japanese restaurant that offers workshops in an open teaching kitchen. Classes are geared towards the home cook and include courses such as ramen, sashimi, Japanese-style pickling, eggs, fish preparation, rolled sushi and sushi for kids. Osakana offers private, semi-private and group classes.
Umami Insider receives no compensation from any of the Japanese cooking schools or programs listed.