Madison Peirson | Sushi Chef, Yosake
Five Minutes with Madison Peirson, YoSake:
“I’m trying hard to add inspiration from California sushi at YoSake, with amazing presentation, elegance, and sexiness. Sushi should be a beautiful, intimate experience. “
Applying Her Food Artistry
I don’t think there are any other female rollers in Wilmington. I was hired at Dram & Morsel, to help redesign the dessert menu, because I’m actually a pastry chef, and they lost two of the sushi guys at YoSake, which made them short on people, and they were like, you’re going to train on sushi. And I never went back upstairs… it’s awesome. I always wanted to learn more about sushi. Always.
We get so busy up here, it’s crazy. You can either keep up with it, or you can’t. We do almost 400 covers every single night. Sometimes we get 20 tickets behind, we are so busy. Sushi is an art, though, you really can’t rush it.
The Making of a Niche
I consider myself a sushi connoisseur because I really know how to eat sushi. I’ve been eating sushi all my life. I like plain and simple sashimi… nigiri. I was trying to find my chef-niche, what I would be really good at, and now I want to continue in sushi from here. I’ve done saute, pastry, garde-manger, everything, and then I came to YoSake and I knew immediately this is what I want to focus on. I was working kitchen jobs – four jobs at one time – and going to school, and I just didn’t feel like I could do it all. I decided to focus on my chef jobs. I learned in the kitchens. It was funny going from a culinary setting – it was slow paced, and cushy – and then to this.
Traditionally, in Japan, women aren’t sushi chefs, because their hands are “too warm” and reasons like that. [laughing] It’s interesting coming into a male-dominated specialty. I’m so not-traditional anyway. I don’t like classic French, or any of it, so I like to bring my own unique twist to what I do.
The sushi we do is very Americanized – with the cream cheese and fried options. I try to keep it as classy as possible, but I don’t want it to get boring, so I encourage people to try something new. As a sushi chef here, I am seen by the diners, and I love interacting with my guests. I’m not back in the kitchen like at other chef jobs.
Most people who come to YoSake know a lot about sushi, and we have a lot of regulars. I remember people by what they order – I know their sushi rolls! Every once in awhile, someone comes in and hasn’t had sushi before, so I suggest they start with sashimi. Maybe I’ll do a cooked roll for them. Wilmington diners are very adventuresome. Lots of people order our more complex rolls and are open to creative suggestions. They put a lot of faith and trust in us to make them something really delicious. (Brush up on your sushi lingo here.)
Crazy for Asian Flavors
I don’t really eat at home. But I love to shop at Saigon Market, for Asian products, I get those crazy Ramen packets and that’s like my favorite ever. I also love the Pho Cafe. I love Asian food. I’m a huge fan. I grew up in California, in Folsum. I was homesick when I first moved to Wilmington, but the food scene here is just so fun, and the town is going to grow in that direction.
At YoSake, we do what we call “Off the Hook,” it’s local, fresh fish, for our specialties. And we use fresh local microgreens, too. We do a roll here called This is How We Roll, or “how-we-roll.” It’s chef’s choice, we can do whatever we want with it, which is a lot of fun. It’s art. I love it just for the sheer fact that I get to be here, and hand-make every piece. Sometimes I miss doing desserts, but I like doing sushi much better. I’ve learned a lot here about breaking down fish, and I’ve learned how to roll professionally, pat out, everything. I’m a pretty confident person, so even though I haven’t had a ton of experience, anything I’ve been given to do, I’ve been able to put out good stuff.
Visit Madison and ask for a “How We Roll,” or go online at
YoSake to peruse the tempting sushi menu.
Expand Your Sushi Know-how
Don’t commit a sushi faux-pas! Brush up on your sushi & sashimi dining skills: