Well into my first months of living here in the United States, I had the opportunity to work briefly for a catering company /restaurant in Seattle. I did not have the papers yet to work legally but was determined to take a peek into the restaurant kitchens here in the States. I volunteered to work without pay and the company was more than glad to take me in.
They put me right to work and was committed to pastry. The department was experiencing a “re-organization”; there were three of us, a recent hire and graduate from culinary school (who would soon quit ), and Felix -a cook pulled out from the kitchen. Felix, I soon learned later, had started in pastry and was moved to the kitchen as line cook- a work he preferred. But for now, his temporary assignment was to teach and guide recent culinary graduate and bumbling me to do bread, bars, cookies , tarts and muffins in yields of dozens.
Felix was generous in his teaching and was patient; I struck an immediate friendship with him. He spoke very little English and I tried to speak as well as I could with my Spanish ( or what I thought was Spanish) . In the days that followed my first day, the line cooks from the kitchen department would come by my table to introduce themselves and chat – all in Spanish. It seems my Visayan-Spanish had entitled me honorary membership to the clique. I believe too it was mainly from Felix’s she’s- ok seal of approval.
They had their stories of hardship, struggle, separation, and missing home – the home they had left for a better life in the United States. Not one of them went to culinary school and yet their hands moved swiftly on the stove and transformed ingredients to a dish people swooned at the table.
My story is a prelude to this short film entitled Mexican Cuisine by a brilliant young man named Fran Guijarro. I predict we will be hearing much of him in the coming months.
Mexican Cuisine is a beautiful and moving film, it celebrates and honors the real chefs behind the great and small kitchens of the United States.
Watch the video and please read the important note below .
The film, Mexican Cuisine is a nominee at the Jameson Notodofilmfest Festival, an important event that supports young filmmakers through the Internet platform. If you would like to vote for the film in the Audience Favorite Category you could do so Here. Deadline for voting is on February 28, 2011, Monday at 12 noon.
And if you click on this Mexican Cuisine link it will take you directly to the film’s facebook page- if you love this film as I do, vote for it and write the creators about it.