Sushi Yasuda owner Scott Rosenberg jumps into the debate around the Department of Health rule forcing sushi chefs to wear gloves in an op-ed for the Daily News — saying that the rule ruins sushi making and is more dangerous than chefs using their bare hands. Rosenberg previously denounced the rule in 2012 and repeated his call for no gloves this week in light of Sushi Dojo's closing last month. Chef David Bouhadana — who is still working to get his two restaurants open — argued that the DOH only shut down his spots because his chefs don't wear gloves.
Rosenberg writes in the Daily News that gloves make the sushi more unsanitary, citing a 2010 study that found gloves were more contaminated because they create "a false sense of security." "Think of going into a deli and cringing when the glove-wearing sandwich-maker takes some cash, wipes their gloved hands on their soiled apron or grasps a dirty drawer handle," Rosenberg writes. But sushi chefs are more aware of tiny pieces of debris on the fish since they touch food with bare hands. They also have their own methods of cleanliness that include frequent hand washing and dousing hands in vinegar water as a disinfectant. "With gloves, they are flying blind," Rosenberg says.
Beyond sanitation and safety, the rule is ruining the craft of sushi, Rosenberg adds. Touching fish directly helps the chef feel the texture for freshness, the oil for best slicing technique, and the temperature for best taste, he writes. Ultimately, the DOH rule is "nutty" and threatens the craft of sushi making in New York, he writes. "[The] reality is that the use of gloves in sushi preparation is unsanitary, dangerous and impractical," Rosenberg says.
Rosenberg joins a chorus of other chefs who think the DOH rule makes no sense. Sushi Yasuda has an A rating from the DOH and no violation for bare hands, but many high-end sushi restaurants have B ratings and a mark of the violation, as Eater previously reported. Other chefs just put on the gloves when inspectors show up and take them off for day-to-day service. Despite the outcry, the city has been firm about keeping the rule. When asked if they might consider repealing it, DOH previously told Eater that "if neurosurgeons can operate with gloves, sushi chefs can use gloves to roll teka maki."