Photo by Yarat

Around 4:30 PM, the first waitress came in to start her shift.

”Hello. You must be the new chef. The manager told me about you were starting today. My name is Emma.”

“I’m Kaz.”

“Kaz, nice to meet you.”

Emma was a  petite, outgoing, energetic Asian American girl. Everyone liked her she made good tips. She was living in an apartment very close to the restaurant with her boyfriend, who wanted to become an actor. We heard Emma tried some audition and had not yet got any part, or got small part or something.

After saying hello, Emma wasted no time and started to set up the tables, placing chopsticks and napkins. I had no idea what her job was, but she looked like she knew what she was doing.

“So, have you worked at a restaurant before, Kaz?”

“No, I have not.”

“Oh, OK. Well, you look like a quick learner. Everyone here is nice and especially the sushi chefs, Toshi, Kai and Jun are all nice. I am sure you will be fine,” Emma said with a smile.

“We do get lots of young kids on weekends. It’s Tuesday tonight so that it won’t be that bad.”

“What should I do next?” I asked Toshi. It was five o’clock.

“Why don’t you take a break and have some dinner.”

“Where can I get dinner? Is there a makanai, the employee meal?”

“Well here, no makanai. Everyone eats on their own. You can make your  dinner or order something from the kitchen.”

“OK. Thanks,” I said to Toshi and walked to the back kitchen.

I was, very nervous because it was my first day. I was also nervous because I had no idea what to do, and how I should behave.

In the back kitchen was Alejandro, a Mexican short guy in his fifties with a mustache. I was not in the mood for making dinner, so I asked Alejandro to make me some tempura. I put some rice and miso soup in the bowl and waited for Alejandro to finish tempura.

Two hours of prep time went so fast, it seemed. I still had eight more hours to go until 2 AM.

Alejandro handed me a plate of shrimp, yum, carrots and kabocha and handed it to me.

“Thanks,” I said and went upstairs to eat my tempura dinner makanai. Suddenly, I felt exhausted from being anxious and nervous working in the professional kitchen for the first time, though, I was hopeful and really excited to start my new journey.


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