“Self-taught”, yes, but Not By Choice…

Rockin’ my new tenugui towel and dabo shirt! ^-^

Facts are facts.

Yes, I have spent thousands of dollars and hundred of hours (I’ll happily dedicate ten-fold more!) towards perfecting my craft. Another fact: I have received valuable feedback via email, etc from other ramen cooks, chefs, and enthusiasts. All of this information was vital is helping me begin to navigate my course and embark on what could be a life-long journey of perfecting my Japanese ramen.

When I began, I’ll be the first to admit that the ramen that I was producing was far from complex or even impressive, for that matter. The best I could hope for were a few “likes” on social media from pictures of my weekly ramen projects. Even with my admitted faults, I still hoped to apprentice, or even work at a ramen shop to gain a greater idea of how the ramen world worked. I was single and had been laid off work at one point and was in a position to pick up and move anywhere in the United States. I ready to take off anywhere if the opportunity presented itself.

It was after continuously reaching out for job opportunities to work as *anything* that would get me around ramen and how a shop’s general work flow was conducted, I was still flat-out ignored. After a little over 90 outreach attempts, I gave up on seeking out any apprenticeships, job opportunities, etc. Granted, I was being choosy about where I reached out. However, that was only because despite being even more of a novice then, compared to the relative one that I still am, I *did* know a good shop when I saw one. I took their customer and employee reviews into consideration. In the end, I reached out and without any replies, I came to the conclusion that I simply was not good enough. Looking back, I would even consider that a fair assessment. That said, I could choose to be bitter and give up because I could not impress them, or I could teach myself, improve my ramen, and become a better me in the process. No longer would I reach out for someone to teach me (I would still be honored to apprentice a seasoned and respected ramen chef!), but would take matters into my own hands to “rise up the ranks”. I’d let my results do the talking instead.

Moving forward, since everything is on my shoulders as of right now, I have not decided if a brick-and mortar is right for me. I like the idea of doing pop-ups, or even teaching ramen-crafting classes. These activities grant me the freedom to move about and network. In addition, if I do decide to open up a shop one day, I want it to be in a city that is a mutual fit. I am not in this for money; I could care less about quick cash-grabs. The ramen needs to be respected as a craft and I need to feel that it is a place where it and I can grow.

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