New York sushi chef David Bouhadana apparently likes to speak English in a Japanese accent, in yet another example of white privilege.
Bouhadana, a white man from Florida, apprenticed in Japan for three years before being launched into the spotlight as “the new face of sushi”.
He received high praise from popular food websites, including Eater, which also posted a story on Friday about the chef’s tendency to incorporate fake Asian accents while serving customers at Sushi By Bou in the East Village, a restaurant famous for its 30-minute, $50 omakase.
Bouhadana would present a fish in English, say “oishi, oishi” (delicious), followed by “dericious, dericious” in an offensive and stereotypical Japanese accent, sources told Eater.
When asked if he actually does this at his restaurant, he confirmed, calling the accent “little fun jokes”.
He then compared how his Japanese employees put on an American accent while quoting Drake songs.
“Maybe in my mind I think I’m Japanese,” Bouhadana said.
Bouhadana seems to think too highly of himself, describing himself as a teacher and a bridge between Japanese and American culture.
“I want to embrace Japanese culture and any culture,” he said. “I think we do a great job of showing that.”
This is not the first time the sushi chef considered speaking in a fake Japanese accent to be a joke.
In an interview with the Village Voice in 2009, Bouhadana talked about his last name being “funny, because you can make it sound Japanese, as a joke [he says his name in a convincing Japanese accent]. But no, it’s a Moroccan name. My father is from Morocco, and my mom was born in France.”
Kevin Nguyen, a writer for GQ, chimed in with his thoughts on Eater’s piece, tweeting: “This reporting is great, but it’s also outlets like Eater that prop up chefs like this in the first place.”