Today on the podcast, we talk to David Gelb – director of the award-winning documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This documentary is a fascinating look into the life of 85-year old sushi master Jiro Ono, widely considered the world’s greatest sushi chef. Jiro is the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin 3-star restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station. The film has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics being described as ‘beautiful, thoughtful and engrossing’.
David shares with me the origins of the film – specifically his love of sushi which began as a child, on a short trip to Japan. He goes on to detail his first encounter with Jiro. Introduced by Masuhiro Yamamoto, David describes Jiro’s restaurant as temple-like, with the quiet reflecting a deep reverence for Jiro’s actions. David goes on to detail his initial vision and his filming/editing process, essentially a project of passion into which he poured his life savings.
David shares, that what struck him as filming began was, the depth of Jiro’s story – the human journey of hard work and family. David speaks of Jiro’s elder son, who is confronted with the challenge of succeeding his father, drawing parallels with his own experiences as the son of an award-winning film maker and grandson of the managing editor of The New York Times.
He also shares his struggles in accessing the local vendors, many of whom had faced backlash after the release of The Cove – which highlighted the slaughter of dolphins in the small town of Taiji. Throughout the interview, David stresses the importance of the team behind Jiro, the huge commitment of many individuals in ensuring Jiro has the tools with which to create his masterpieces.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available on DVD – included on the special edition are deleted scenes which cover personal stories, more information on individual vendors, a commentary track and a gallery of Jiro’s creations.