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Opinion: Chef Wasabi must become a lovable villain once again

Comedian Ryan Beil's hot take on who used to be the spiciest Sushi Race mascot at The Nat.
Chef Wasabi was once the spiciest opponent at the Sushi Races during Vancouver Canadians games. Comedian Ryan Beil says he should be played like a villain again. Do you agree?

Full disclosure, I openly boo “Chef” Wasabi during the Sushi Race(s) at the Nat.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Sushi Race(s). For the uninitiated, The Sushi Race(s) I’m referring to is a foot race between mascots, representing different sushi-related (or sushi adjacent) characters, that happens during an inning break at a Vancouver Canadians baseball game. 

Those characters are Kappa Maki; Ms. BC Roll; Sadaharu Soy (named after Japanese Baseball Hall of Famer Sadaharu Oh); the chopstick twins I can never remember the names of; and, of course, "Chef” Wasabi. 

I always told myself if I ever had a platform to talk about baseball, I would do a certified hit-piece on “Chef” Wasabi. Well, here’s my chance, and I’m not holding back. 

First off, what makes him a chef? He’s a living, breathing hunk of wasabi, isn’t that enough? He also needs an occupation? What’s next? Dr. Kappa Maki? The Right Honourable BC Roll? Professor Sadaharu? Sheriff The Two Chopsticks I can Never Remember the Names of!? 

Calling him a chef implies a backstory I, as a fan, have never been privy to. If he’s an actual chef, I want to see credentials. Or at the very least, release a video of him putting together a fairly complicated dish. 

But that’s not why I boo him. 

I boo him because he used to be a cad. A certified heel. He had antics and bits! 

Where did his malevolence go? When I was a boy (and by “boy” I mean “in my late 20s and early 30s”) I remember “Chef” Wasabi as a trickster. A charlatan. A cad. 

Whether he was diverting racers to a fake finish line, or taking a nap after gaining a large lead, he was insufferable and always up to something. And that’s what made him a star. His arrogance. His disdain for the rules. His laissez-faire attitude. 

Over the last few seasons, that attitude has all but evaporated. The number of hijinks have dropped exponentially and The Sushi Race(s) has become a contest solely concerned with the mascots’ athletic abilities. 

I say, no more! Bring back “Chef” Wasabi’s stunts! Let Sadaharu Soy be his foil! Start a storyline where the Chopstick Twins break up! Have Ms. BC Roll run for mayor! Maybe Kappa Maki gets into Cryptocurrency and loses everything? I don't know, I’m just spitballing here. 

There’s a reason why I have a “Chef” Wasabi bobble head, and the team store sells “Chef” Wasabi T-shirts: his history as a beloved villain. An anti-hero. An outlaw. And the sooner we see that “Chef” Wasabi back on the field, the better. 

I know this is an unpopular opinion. Wasabi has legions of fans. And if it gets me cancelled, so be it! Let the vitriol flow! But I truly believe the youth of today need to be treated to Wasabi’s cavalier attitude and creative rule-breaking. 

So, what do you think? Do you have a hot take about any of the Sushi Race characters? Please let me know. And as always: see you at The Nat!

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