About human kindness, foreigners and food.

This post is gonna be real short. It’s about something Chef Ivan Orkin said in his documentary for Chef’s Table on Netflix; something that meant a lot to me.

Ivan is a no-bullshit type of guy. At some point, he describes how at the age of 15 he got a job at a Japanese restaurant. He cycled there for his first day of work and arrived pretty hungry. One of the cooks prepared a fairly straight forward bowl of Tamago Kake Gohan (rice) for him that he found weird at first and eventually liked.

Ivan described the staff there as good people. I can’t remember the exact words, but he clearly meant to say that they were decent human beings, kind enough to prepare him a bowl of rice when he was hungry and who had no prejudice about having a white kid in a Japanese kitchen.

In the documentary, this entire story takes maybe 1 minute to tell but I found it so telling of the power of mankind to do good.

You see, if the staff at the restaurant were absolutely idiots, they would’ve probably never cared that Ivan was hungry. They would’ve probably resented him for being different and from another country. But they didn’t. They were kind.

And because they were kind, Ivan learned to like Japanese food. And because he liked Japanese food, he also learned to cook it. He moved to Japan. He fell in love… with the country, with people and got married twice. He opened a restaurant there. He became one of the best Ramen Chefs in Japan, a country where foreign Chefs of all disciplines struggle to stand out. He overcame adversity and loss.

Imagine, how much human potential could’ve been lost if it wasn’t for kindness?

In a time and age when there’s so much prejudice, we could all do with some kindness. We could all be more welcoming to foreigners, travelers, strangers and anyone who asks for a bowl of rice.