I was always searching. I wanted to know who I am, why I was born, what I am here for. I was once an English teacher, but my heart told me that this wasn’t the thing for me.
When I was a kid, I would draw everyday. On the street, at home, inside my mom’s closet drawers. I drew wherever I could find a space. At age seven, I drew a picture of everyone putting their faces into the watermelon, in the summer. I won a prize.
I realised that I had to go back to the field of creativity. I came to London to study fine art, only to find out I could not make a living doing this.
I started working in a restaurant as a waitress. I became intrigued by this type of cooking. I asked the executive chef – Suzuki San, if he could train me as a Teppanyaki chef. He agreed. He thought I would quit, because chef work is hard. There were only men in the kitchen. But I kept going.
I wanted to learn, to grow, to improve myself. I wanted to offer the best taste experiences to my clients. I started teaching because I wanted people to learn from me. so that they could do the same at their own kitchen. I couldn’t stay at the same position for too long, without feeling like I was becoming a robot. After awhile, the work becomes “just a job.”
I’ve always wanted to open my own thing, but I did not have the courage. At the same time, I kept hearing my voice, “Keiko, why are you always scared? Why don’t you give yourself a chance and do something for yourself?”
In 2008, the restaurant I was working for, closed. I was made redundant. I found a position in a bank. However, they decided at the last minute not to open the executive kitchen as they had planned. I found another position in a restaurant. I told the day before I started that one of the owners had run away with all the money.
I decided to start everything from scratch. By myself. One month later, I got my first client.
The meaning of life? I think I have now found the answer.
For me, it is love. It is to love yourself, to be yourself, and to give yourself the opportunity to find out who you really are.
We are born to do something. Everybody is unique. Everybody has something unique to offer to this world.
I am happy that I can make a living now while expressing my creativity.
I found art and myself in Sushi.
Keiko Yamamoto, founder of Sushi Queen.