I flew back in LA, and it was July 2000. I moved out of my apartment back in January and put all my belongings into a storage facility in Marina Del Rey, so the only place I could stay was my ex-girlfriend’s apartment in Santa Monica.
I picked up a local LA Japanese newspaper called “Nikkan Sun,” which had the most help wanted ads in Japanese. There were tons of sushi chef wanted ads in there with the line saying, “No experience necessary. We will train you.” I never thought I would become a sushi chef and since they were in such a demand, I realized sushi chef was the way for me to go.
I circled two to three of them and immediately called them. One of them was Rock’n Hollywood Sushi and was the very first interview I went.
I drove from Santa Monica and went through the infamous Sunset Strip, Whisky a go go, rainbow room, The house of blues and so on. Rock’n Hollywood Sushi was located at the east end of Sunset Strip
From outside, it did not look anything like a sushi restaurant. The inside of the restaurant was all red with black leather booths seats. It smelled like soy sauce and hot, musty. uWhen I arrived, the owner was there inside of the restaurant waiting for me.
He stood up from his seat at the sushi bar, the opposite side of the restaurant and greeted me and then opened the window behind him saying it was getting hot.
“Hi. My name is Saito. I am the owner of the restaurant.”
“Hello, my name is Kaz. Nice to meet you.”
“So, you wanted to work here, right? Do you have any experience?”
“Yes and no, I mean, yes I want to work here, and no, I have no experience, and the ad said it’s OK to have no experience, so I thought I would give a try. I will do anything, so that’s why I came here today.”
“All right, that sounds good. Let me introduce you to the head chef, Toshi.”
Mr. Saito went back into the kitchen and brought a Japanese man, who was about the same aga as I was.
“Hello, my name is Toshi. So, you have no experience?”
“Yes, no experience.”
“Have you done any cooking before?”
“A little. I cook my own meals.”
“Have you ever worked in a restaurant?”
“No. The only food related experience was working at a food service at college school cafeteria,” I replied.
“OK,” Toshi said.
Toshi seemed like a quite person, not grumpy but did not give a pleasant feeling at first look. He had medium long hair.
“What do you think Toshi-chan?” the owner asked.
“Why not? I think it’s a go,” Toshi said.
“Sounds good. Why don’t you start tomorrow?”
I was shocked at how easy it was, as I never expected to be hired so soon. I had two more interviews lined up today and tomorrow.
“Ummm, how about two days later, Wednesday? I have a few things to take care of today and tomorrow.”
“Wednesday it is. What time should Kaz come, Toshi?”
“Three o’clock in the afternoon.”
That was it. That was how I became a sushi chef without no training, no experience at all.