The mix of businesses in Los Angeles is complex. Some areas of industry depend on global connections while others are unique to the city. Major segments of the Los Angeles economy include: tourism, entertainment, manufacturing, finance, toys, and petroleum.
Global commerce and the international travel of people helped expand American dietary habits and make Los Angeles a center of Asian fusion cuisine. As immigrants shared their own culinary traditions and native-born citizens gained familiarity with other countries dishes, hybrid food styles, like Asian fusion, emerged.
In the 1970s, trade with Pacific Rim countries skyrocketed, helping to popularize sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes in Los Angeles, although in significantly Westernized form. The process was also advanced by the inexpensive and fast transportation of perishable products like fish.
Elegant Asian Fusion
The fusion menu at Chaya Brasserie in fashionable Beverly Hills, California, is a culinary reflection of Los Angeless ethnic mix. Executive chef Shigefumi Tachibe was trained in formal French technique in Nagasaki, Japan, and later learned Italian techniques while working in Milan, Italy. He helped found Chaya in 1983 and developed a menu that appealed to his California clienteles obsession with health and international sophistication.
Chef Tachibe, 1983
Menu cover from Chaya Brasserie
Napkin from Chaya
Chef Tachibe shopping at a fish market
Chopsticks from Chaya
An employee prepares sushi
Making Sushi for the American Palate
With most Americans squeamish about eating raw fish, the Japanese approach to sushi was modified before becoming popular in the United States. To please Western taste, sushi chefs in Los Angeles developed the California roll, which features avocado and slightly cooked imitation crab. This modification to the tradition became popular in the U.S. and the concept was eventually exported back to Japan. Another change to traditional sushi for American taste was putting the seaweed and fish on the inside and the rice on the outside.
Sushi for the Masses
As mainstream America became acclimated to sushi, Advanced Food Concepts was one of the first companies to provide sushi for the mass market with outlets in supermarkets. Following an innovative microbusiness model, each sushi bar is a franchise operation. The chefs behind the counter are often recent immigrants from Asian countries such as Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia.
AFC employees make sushi
Sushi demonstration poster
Bluefin tuna were once largely ignored by New England commercial fisherman, but the demand from the sushi trade has changed attitudes considerably. The fish are rushed to the dock, where Japanese dealers buy the best ones, pack them in ice, and fly them to Tokyo where they are auctioned off in Tsukiji Market, the worlds largest fish market, just 48 hours after being caught. A single premium-grade fish can sell for over $30,000.
Catching a buefin tuna
Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
The giant Bluefin tuna, which can grow to 12 feet in length and weigh in excess of 1,500 pounds, is highly prized in Japan for sushi. Worldwide demand for Bluefin tuna has led to overfishing. Conservation of Bluefin tuna has proved ineffective because the fish migrate great distances across international borders, making regulation difficult.