The Japanese word Itamae literally means ‘in front of the board’. It is referring to the cutting board, which all top chefs who specialize in sushi fort Lauderdale know as well as they know how sticky the rice has to be.
In Japan becoming an Itamae of sushi takes years. In the first place, the wannabe must spend about 5 years working as an apprentice to a master Itamae. After five years of preparation, the first task is leaning how to prepare the rice faultlessly.
Perfect sushi rice is a snowy mountain of fluffiness, but it is also unique to the master Itamae. Once the rice is grain perfect, the apprentice may move on to the next subject of mastery. At this point the apprentice becomes a waiikita this word means near the cutting board.
Waiikitas still perform only a part of the task at hand. They might be involved in slicing scallions or preparing slivers of ginger which must be unflawed because sushi must look impeccable and not just taste heavenly.
The final stage on the road to Itamae comes when the waiikita is allowed to prepare sushi for take-away customers. During this time, he (and in Japan, he usually is a he) will watch how the master Itamae treats the customers. Interacting with the customers is another part of the experience a diner will expect in a sushi restaurant in Japan. The experience affects all the senses, not just the taste buds.
To become truly Itamae, when the suffix -san is added to the title, to become Itamae-san, the waiikita must be able to create nigirizushi. The word means hand pressed, but to a sushi master it has one specific meaning. In nigirizushi every individual grain of rice must face in the same direction.