Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sushi 101

Last night I was able to satisfy that little part of me that longs for the days before I had a full-time 9-5. I had a glimpse of what it used to be like to work a part time or summer job doing something completely opposite of office work.

I worked as a culinary assistant for Sur la Table and it was so much fun. It was kind of funny too because Melissa, who came to my cooking class last month, was there with her fiancé Brandon. (Brandon Anderson for those of you who know him).

She saw me there and said, “So you took them up on your offer, I guess!” Yes, I did. Last time I was there (see previous post), I was a student in a class and the chef Pamela talked to me about being an assistant and so I interviewed a few weeks ago and they hired me.

If you don’t mind doing dishes, being an assistant is just as great (if not better) than being a student. You learn a lot, you get to eat whatever is left over (which is a LOT) and you get paid for your time. And you get an employee discount.

Pamela is so nice and there were two other assistants there: Brian and Van. They were awesome to work with. Brian could very well be the nicest guy I’ve ever met, and he’s the perfect assistant because he’s a freaking mind reader. He just peruses the kitchen picking up utensils when you need them, moving trash cans closer to you, handing you a wet towel, etc. He would also take over whatever I was doing just in case I wanted to watch the chef so I could learn. What a great guy. Sometimes I forget there are people like that around.

Last night we learned how to make a few different sushi rolls. The picture at the top of this post is Brandon slicing his rainbow roll. I think that one was my favorite. Or there was one I liked that had “crunchies” in it (that’s what the sushi chef called them, it was basically fried tempura). His name was Wil. Well, his real name is something no one could pronounce so we all called him Wil. He was great and really cute when he didn’t know the English word for “squeeze”. The best thing about Wil was how people kept asking him questions about Japan and he would just shake his head and say, “I don’t know.” Yeah, he’s Korean.

I scheduled three days in June to work there again. I like having these little jobs on the side. It’s fun and challenging to venture outside my office job. And a little humbling. A couple years ago I did extra work for Everwood. I think I did that about three or four times. It paid better than this job, but they pushed you around (literally) and treated you like a child – a little alarming to someone used to being treated with respect. Still, I enjoyed the experience.

I did dishes for about 90 minutes straight last night. Coming home exhausted from being on my feet for several hours, my clothes smelling like cooking oil and my fingers shrunken from soapy water took me back to my Food for Thought days in Draper ten years ago. Let’s be honest, my job with the Arts Council doesn’t have me working THAT hard. I mean, it’s a thinking job. I get paid for my ideas and follow-through. Some days I work like a dog, installing shows, moving artwork, running around to meet deadlines, but that only happens two or three times a month. I have a lot of respect for people who are on their feet all day, every day.


Ilene said...

Oh, Laura. Do you realize what a fun life you have? That sounds so fun. When I move to wherever I am moving, make sure I go out of my way to do something like that. A cooking class sounds really fun. Dan would adore me if I knew how to make sushi. You make me really want to have a Laura Day!

How much is your discount by the way?

SRA said...

*applause* For both the fact that Brandon Anderson is getting married, and that you did a really cool thing at Sur la Table the other night.

Can I meet Brian? I need someone to set me up...getting a date these days is beyond my ability to accomplish, it seems. I need help.


laura said...


I'd set you up with Brian, but he's gotta be at least 40 years old :)


My discount is 40% but I can only use it the nights I work. So I need to research what I want to buy beforehand. I want a couple of really good knives, so I'm going to test some in the kitchen and decide which kinds I want. I know I want a santoku knife.

Supercords said...

I'm totally jealous. I've love to learn how to make sushi some day, especially if I'm getting paid to do it. Great post.


SRA said...

Crap! I am so desperate for a date it's really disturbing.

Oh, and by the way, the stake president is pretty much my hero these days.

Will you be there tomorrow night for the small-group class? I will be, believe it or not!


charlottalove said...

You learned how to make sushi! Wow. you are my hero. I had some amazing sushi just last week and I'm content in just watching it rolled instead of learning the art myself. That's awesome!