Sushi: A Two-Part Tale of Consumption and Construction Posted on 19 Nov 02:32 , 0 comments
Article by Anna Lowe.
Marcello Elefoso has been making sushi for over 10 years having perfected his technique in big name restaurants like Morizono (BAs first Japanese). But with an entrepreneurial free spirit he sought the excitement of starting his own business. From humble beginnings teaching mates sushi preparation techniques, he now works with partner Ariel Taira giving cooking classes at all levels, private catering for businesses and parties and, for the past few months, he has opened his stylish sushi kitchen as a ‘closed-door’ restaurant ‘CHF Cookhouse’.
PART 1 – The Restaurant
I caught up with Marcello as he prepped the Friday evening menu of fusion Peruvian/Japanese style cuisine. His specially adapted Palermo apartment hosts a modern sushi bar seating eight where diners can watch his unfeasibly fast hands fabricate the dishes, with a further communal table behind. In Tokyo, sushi bars are often small – a couple of seats and one chef doing his obsessive-compulsive thing. Here, Marcello’s open kitchen creates a similar scenario of direct contact where he chats, chops, tastes and serves.
As the food is plated it becomes clear Cookhouse doesn’t offer the usual rustic ‘closed door’ fare. Marcello is a pro and presents fresh, delicate, Instagram-friendly bites. Two appetizers of Carpaccio salmon and sole are boldly matched with fruity dressings and crunchy filo or sweet potato chips. A Peruvian ceviche is subtle and not too acidic, while tempura prawns are terrifically plump and crisp. For the main sushi dish Marcello plays to the Argentine audience and thus, although perfectly executed and innovative in parts, it’s a little ‘fusion-y’ for my taste. (I’d prefer cream cheese and sticky passion-fruit jams to be kept as an optional side dip.) Nevertheless, I gobbled down the lot and enjoyed the deliciously chewy brownie as dessert.
Marcello’s great food, affordable price and trendy upbeat vibe have already made Cookhouse popular. Yet as I finished my wine and reflected on his attention to detail – I wanted to know more. As ever with alcohol and soft-lighting, I was soon making impulsive decisions and left enrolled for sushi school…
PART 2 – The School
Ok it wasn’t totally impulsive. The delicate art of sushi preparation has always appealed. Maybe it’s because as a child, my chunky lopsided attempts at pottery were the butt of family jokes and my piano teacher refused me Chopin on account of indelicate ‘sausage-fingers’ – but I took one look at Marcello’s delicate creations and knew sushi could redeem me.
A month later. I am now half way through my sushi course (four sessions lasting two and half hours). I can confirm that yes, sushi is fiendishly fiddly. It takes patience (foodies recall master Jiro’s poor apprentice who cried when he finally made acceptable egg omelette) and precision. But under Marcello’s guidance, classes are extremely good fun and informal. Our little team join together once a week to get a bit messy, bond and, most importantly, take home a Tupper of fishy delights.
As an expat, taking cookery classes is a novel way to improve your Spanish. But to be perfectly honest, more than the socializing and the physical pleasure of filleting a salmon into fleshy tongues, I just enjoy telling people I take sushi classes. (Eyebrows raised – “wow, that’s pretty cool.”) Realistically, my podgy fingers and lack of patience and practice ensures my rolls usually appear as deformed gloopy-fish balls. BUT I have the sushi graduate certificate – and that has to be worth some hipster points.