| When I was younger, I worked in a sort of strange restaurant. It seemed to want to be all things to all people, serving a wide range of high end foods, including ingredients like sea urchin and goose liver, while also offering ornate bar foods in the expensive, cold and fancy social gathering area, where beautiful people would ignore the sporting events on the walls. Our menu had both pizza and sushi.|
Good food ... weird place! While it was a hopping joint at the time, I believe it's the only restaurant I've ever worked in that doesn't still stand, today.
In any event, we had a few sushi chefs on hand. They had a boss ... the lead sushi chef, whose complicated name was a challenge to pronounce. He was lovingly dubbed "Tamale Cauliflower" by the crew. Tamale was a dutifully honorable and stoic Japanese man. His sushi and his creations were well above any I've ever seen. I learned A LOT from Tamale. He could do things I've never seen duplicated by any other chef, and he knew it. Between orders, he would sit and read the paper, which would get you fired in most places. Tamale was the only man I've ever known, in any kitchen, anywhere, who could not only get away with sitting and reading a paper while working, but ... could make it look like it was part of his job description. He could sit and quietly read, while emanating a paradoxically strong busy demeanor!
Somewhere, somehow, I'd managed to convince Tamale that he shouldn't isolate himself so much and that he should contribute to the team. It's not that Tamale was standoffish. Tamale was an incredible guy, but he just radiated something tough to penetrate. He lived his own rules. I somehow managed to reach in there and convince him to cook dinner for the staff, if even only occasionally.
Once a month, Tamale made "Singapore Noodles" for a group of about 40 people. He'd show up early and quickly, quietly, calmly and effortlessly float around, gathering the ingredients. Then he would methodically slice everything into perfect little strips, ribbons and cubes. He'd sort the ingredients into perfectly lined rows, set up on a bamboo tray. He'd carry the tray to the Wok station, crank the massive industrial Wok to high and then Tamale would ... dance! That's the only way I know to describe it! Between working the water flow with his knees, shucking and jiving, while tossing the ingredients into a thousand degree Wok hovering above a rocket engine; Tamale's whole being just grooved into this amusing/amazing 12 minute burst of curry powder, shrimp and vegetables. It was really quite a sight to see from a man who never smiled, never frowned, never showed any kind of display ... of any kind.
Yet, once a month ... Tamale would dance and give us "Singapore Noodles". They were good, too!