Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen...Is a Good thing
In mesmerizing choreography, a young chef dances chicken and pork around a blazing hot grill, ducks through arms swiftly filling bowls with colorful veggies, and spins toward cookers of rice to complete her performance.
19-year-old Simone, is one of dozens of cooks being mentored by head-chef, Davis Lau.
“Cooking has saved me,” accounts Simone, not breaking eye-contact with her grill. “This year has been rough with the pandemic, forcing me to make big decisions, such as moving. Whenever I’m upset, angry, happy, all the emotions- I cook!”
Simone’s longing for hands-on teaching was found at Sesami. “Most bosses put young people as far away as possible from the kitchen. Davis is different.”
Simone’s only been here a month, but already knows how each element in the dishes forms a puzzle. She’s mastered chopping, seasoning, grilling, glazing, and most especially, developing umami, one of the five basic tastes derived from Japan.
“I want to become a chef because it is empowering. I feel accomplished after having my friends over, and they eat my food, and they’re like ‘Oh wow, this is really good!’”
Chef Davis not only teaches students to develop flavor palettes, but also coaches them in transferable life skills. When the restaurant gets busy, the students learn to prioritize their tasks. When food needs prepping, the students apply mathematics and creativity. When a customer needs an accommodation, the students actively listen and communicate.
So what does the future hold for the young chef? Simone aspires to attend culinary school and open up her own DIY pasta shop.