Thursday, June 2, 2011

the mentorship of beektor


i had been seeing via social media that victor was experimenting with a ramen broth that made a limited debut today during hapa ramen's regular spot at the tues/thurs farmers market at the ferry building. the fact that victor, susanna, and richie (ahem, the chef/owner) are always experimenting in the hapa ramen kitchen in the mission is not a secret. you can see this on their hapa ramen tumblr blog. as there were only about 10 quarts brought to the stand today, i ensured that i got there early. i actually blocked the slot off in my calendar so i could make a quick trip down to the ferry building and basically check-in w/mrs hapa ramen about potential dates for various upcoming gal nights, ordered the ramen,

make a donation to hapa ramen baby fund, ask susanna if she'd be up for being my date for porchlight, slurp the ramen + rush back to my office for the rest of my meetings.

so as i sit here now, done with my work day, i'm able to recall a few of the many things going through my mind while i was looking and slurping my way through the very porky rich broth with a hint of spice.....


and accented with a toasted garlic oil. i, also, of course asked to have a slow cooked egg with it.



as it was pretty early, i huddled around my bowl at one of the larger tables and was pretty soon sharing a table with some young fashion forward asian gals who seemed incredibly intrigued by the ramen. they were seriously staring at it. this was before i took pictures. then i said that it was from hapa ramen and kind of made a gesturing motion towards the stand. one of the gals indicated "it smells so good!" with a smile.

i assessed them as they said this and i almost said that victor on the hapa ramen crew and the guy behind this particular ramen broth that was on special today was right there.... and may be interested in talking to them. about that time, since it was still early, he trying to corral the hapa ramen baby (the offspring of mr + mrs hapa ramen...not victor btw). it isn't unusual to see victor w/the hapa ramen baby.

then i realized "oh shit, am i doing it too? am i trying to pimp him out?". sigh. you see...victor, gets pimped out a lot...particularly by his boss/mentor/chef richie/linecook. one of the truly ironic things about this is that the same folks that try to pimp him out are also the very folks that are very protective. that's what family is about. yet, his particular extended family at hapa ramen happens to be very skilled with very sharp knives and break down whole 200+ pound pigs for their ramen and non-ramen offerings on a regular basis. for example, i had to snicker a couple of weeks ago when susanna asked me to point out the young gals who take pictures of victor....as she needed to check them out....as in vetting them. i'm still cackling now as i recall this.

all "would be" pimping references aside, victor is a hardworking driven young cook who is relatively quiet...and very passionate about food. i, for one, am never one to mistake shy or quiet for pansy. he isn't a pansy. you've got to have some serious cojones to be in a kitchen environment....and you have to have some serious personal drive to commute a couple of hours each way to cook at hapa ramen....as he has done for the majority of time he has been on the crew. while he is more local now...he wasn't always. from an outsider's perspective, i sense that victor will be embarking on things in the near future that will be amazing, challenging, as well as be important pivotal moments in a young cook's life.

also, as i've been around long enough to manage a couple of teams + coach a whole slew of unique personalities, i am able to recognize certain mentorship styles. while i respect richie/linecook/hapa ramen for many food and non-food oriented reasons, the fact that he pushes his team to experiment, allows them the space to do so, and gives them recognition for their efforts....to me... is a mark of a strong mentor. the fact that victor's ramen broth was on the menu today, or his ham at other times....or how susanna's charcuterie or pastry offerings are available at various times....also points to just one aspect of richie's mentorship of them.

over the past year, you can particularly see the impact richie has had upon victor. even if you don't stop by the stand on a regular basis or visit a hapa ramen pop up....the evidence is there...on social media...for anyone and everybody to see that feels like paying attention. from an outsider's perspective, it is a fascinating stage in life to observe...the apprentice and the chef....and watching the apprentice come into his own.

http://haparamen.tumblr.com/
http://twitter.com/haparamen
http://twitter.com/beektoralvarado


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