Sayaka graduated 2010, Professional Culinary.
Has been in Paris for 8 months. Has devoted herself learning from some of the best chefs in Vancouver and Japan. Currently working at Verjus as a line cook and developing menu items for the wine bar. Sayaka aims for exceptionally high standards, and she has the work ethic, temperament, talent, intelligence, and focus to achieve the sublime. Her colleagues at Northwest saw her as the one who could and would pursue such excellence. She was the kind of student that made me think before I spoke. Teaching a room full of students like her would be intimidating. I cleaned my dishes a little bit harder when she was stationed near the demo area.
What insight did Sayaka share? Perfection comes at a price. Balance and confidence teeter-totter when is not easily attainable, and one’s confidence is very volatile. I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi on the flight to Paris for the second time. Noticed the documentary never mentions his wife, and he chuckles with pride when he reminisces about the time his kids thought he was a stranger in their house. This field demands so much of those who want to be great at what they do. It makes searching for balance appear as a weakness, and one’s sense of achievement can be fragile. But Sayaka has attained more than she probably knows already. She has challenged herself beyond the call of duty. Finding personal balance is not simple, but very possible. Students like Sayaka find a way – with time. They love GREAT food, yes, but they love people too. The key is patience.
About Verjus restaurant: Owned and run by two American ex-pats. Mentioned in a recent article in The New York Times. Verjus is one of so many new kitchens in Paris run by expats of some sort. I was expecting American fare. It was cuisine du marche, bright, thoughtful, seasonally-driven compositions any French gourmand would recognize and appreciate…and any fine French wine would tango with. Sayaka told me that Jay-Z and Beyoncé came in the night right after I did. No worries, I came to see a different kind of bright star. Those that feed others are, in my books, the top, the Mona Lisa.