Madame Saito, the owner and proprietor of the HeadHouse Cafe, is one of Philadelphia’s local culinary legends. When she founded Le Champignon & Tokio Sushi Bar in the mid-1980s, it was Philadelphia’s first Japanese-owned gastropub, combining the best of Japanese and French cuisine. Saito is also the originator of the Philly roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese with cucumber), which she was inspired to create after other Japanese American sushi innovations like the California roll gained traction in the ’80s.
She’s also been enthusiastic about teaching others the craft of sushi: for over thirty years, Saito has taught sushi-making whether at her own restaurant, at Temple University’s Center City campus (where she received an honorary doctorate in education), at the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the city. As part of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, she offers sushi making workshops designed with the beginner in mind. Madame Saito is a colorful and patient teacher, and over the course of her three-hour class students learn how to make simple maki rolls with authentic ingredients. Afterwards, students can decide if they’d like to compete in the Amateur Sushi Making Contest or the Subaru Sushi Samurai of the Year….or if they’d prefer to simply use their cooking skills to impress friends and dinner guests. It’s a great opportunity to make friends, play with your food, and have fun!
If you are interested in taking a sushi class with Madame Saito, contact her at 215-922-1223.