Sho Cho’s head chef Jomar Reyes spoke to BBC Good Food Middle East about the most important skills needed to make Japanese food, and advice he would have given to his younger self…
What’s the most useful culinary technique or skill you have learnt in your career?
Learning how to use my knife in the proper way. It has helped me in my career as a chef and especially in dealing with Japanese cuisine. Learning how to slice the fish for sushi and sashimi takes a lot of training.
If you could only have four ingredients in your cupboard what would they be?
Soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, some fresh red chillies and noodles
What’s one kitchen implement you could not live without and why?
I could not live without my Japanese sushi knife and sharpening block. It represents everything that I am about. It’s an extension of me, without I feel that my dishes just don’t work.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a professional chef?
People often think it’s a glamorous lifestyle. It’s not true. Its hard work, long hours and almost no social life. The glamorous side is pretty much for those who are lucky enough to have their own TV show.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself to travel more. To try and learn about different cultures and cuisines before I got settled in work.
What do you like most about your job?
The cooking, I just love watching dishes come to life.
How did you start out in the food industry?
I started when I was 17. I left school and needed a job. Like most chefs I started as a prep cook in a fast food restaurant
Do you cook on your days off? If so what do you cook?
I wish I could, but I always end up eating out.
What is your favourite Japanese food to make, and what advice would you give to home cooks trying to attempt it?
My favourite Japanese food to make is sushi. I like working with raw fish and really trying to bring out the flavours from different types of fish, using sauces and dressings. Most home chefs get the rice texture and flavour profile wrong. They always overcook it, and don’t follow the correct cooling method or recipe. I would tell home cooks to make sure there ingredients are fresh and try and taste the food while cooking as much as possible.