Sushi might be the most eclectic of all culinary traditions. After all, it is as likely to be found — albeit in different guises — revolving upon a conveyor belt as it is being served in the world’s finest Michelin starred restaurants. In 8th Century Japan, sushi was even considered a form of currency — some used it to pay their taxes.
And over time, as so often happens with imported cuisines, the quality of this Japanese delicacy became a victim of overwhelming quantity, with the true essence of the dishes becoming lost in translation.
For nearly 20 years, Sushi Shop have sought to buck this trend, and specialised in the creation of sushi, sashimi and other Japanese specialties — to bring the authentic taste of this extraordinary food to the western world.
Now, they have collaborated with Argentine Mauro Colagreco, head chef at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant on the French side of the Riviera, to create the improbable fusion menu we didn’t know we were waiting for.
Late last year, whilst sampling such delights as yellowtail sushi marinated with saffron and harlequin flowers, we sat with Mauro to discuss everything from the birth of this extraordinary partnership, to his enduring love for good old fashioned fish and chips.
On how the collaboration began...
“I met Gregory (the CEO of Sushi Shop) at my restaurant Grand Coeur in Paris and we got on extremely well discussing food, travel, and different business ideas. By the end of the discussion, he had asked me to send him a proposition and the collaboration was born!”
And is Colagreco satisfied with the end result? “I am so happy, it is one of the best collaborations I have ever worked on. Sushi Shop has an extremely professional team that took in consideration all of my ideas and requirements to create a truly personalised menu.”
On why westerners love sushi...
According to Mauro, our accelerating love affair with sushi can be considered a direct result of its health benefits. “Japanese cuisine is millennial – fresh and healthy with plenty of flavour” he explains.
“Little by little, the cuisine has won around the palate of Westerners. It is not something new — there was a sushi counter at my first job in a restaurant in Argentina — appetites are just getting stronger for it.”
On the challenge of making smaller meals...
Mauro Colagreco’s restaurants are famed for their exquisite seafood, but it must have been strange to channel this prowess into a new tradition and style?
“The challenge of sushi is producing a very small bite which allows you to see, smell and taste all the flavours. Being able to taste the umami is extremely important.”
“The reasoning behind the use of each ingredient is fundamental too. In a traditional dish we have much more ‘space’ to create, put different ingredients together, and even disguise a mistake. Not in sushi!”
On never eating sushi in London…
As our interview draws to an end, I ask Mauro where he would most recommended to sample sushi in the capita. His answer comes sheepishly, “I’m sorry but I must say that when I come to London I prefer to eat fish and chips!”
Mauro Colagreco x Sushi Shop
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