Why can’t women be sushi chefs? Because their periods mess up their sense of taste.
Most would agree that statement is clearly sexist, but what’s even more surprising is who said it.
While researching for a story about why there are so few female sushi chefs in the world, Business Insider’s April Walloga stumbled upon a startling quote from a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal spoken by none other than the son of the world-famous sushi master, Jiro Ono.
Ono and his son, Yoshikazu, both starred in the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Yoshikazu Ono, who is Jiro’s oldest son, is the sous chef of Sukiyabashi Jiro, the three Michelin-starred restaurant that costs $300 a person and is recognized as the top sushi restaurant in the world.
When the Journal asked why there are no female sushi apprentices in his father’s restaurant, Yoshikazu replied:
“The reason is because women menstruate. To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle, women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs.”
Early on in the documentary, Yoshikazu is asked what makes a great sushi chef, to which he responds, “There are some who are born with a natural gift. Some have a sensitive palate and sense of smell.”
He might also agree that those “natural gifts” are exclusively for men.
According to Business Insider, there are several myths in Japan for why a female chef would only create inferior sushi, ranging from women’s hands being too small and warm to handle sushi to their makeup and perfume ruining the taste of fresh fish.