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 was not the thing for me.
When I was a kid, I drew everyday, on the street, at home, inside my mom’s closet drawers…wherever I could find a space. At the age of seven, I did one drawing of everyone putting their faces into the watermelon in the summer, and I got the prize.
I realised that I had to go back to the field of creativity.
So I came to London to study fine art, only to find out that I could not make a living afterwards.
I started working in a restaurant as a waitress. I got intrigued by this type of cooking. I asked the executive chef – Suzuki San, if he could train me as a Teppanyaki chef, and he agreed.
He thought I’d quit, because chef work is hard, and there were only men in the kitchen. But I kept going.
I wanted to learn, to grow, to improve myself, so that I could offer the best taste and experiences to my clients. I also started teaching because I wanted people to learn from me so that they could do the same at their own kitchen. I could not stay at the same position for too long, or I felt like becoming a robot, and the work becomes just like 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 was closed down. I got redundant. I found a position in a bank, but they decided at the last minute not to open the executive kitchen as they were planning for. I found another position in a restaurant, but was told the day before my starting day that one of the owners had run away with all the money.
I finally started 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 to it.
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.
Learn more about Keiko Yamamoto @ Sushi Queen