I am not Jewish but I like to Nosh
Updated: Jul 24
Let's introduce this young enthusiast as Josh, the boy with a beaming smile. Look at his sushi plate, beautifully crafted despite his tender age of 11 when the picture was taken. This photo captures a moment of pride and accomplishment. But did you notice the woman beside Josh? Her smile is infectious, radiating pure joy. That woman is Josh's mom, and she couldn't be more thrilled.
This heartwarming story revolves around a monthly public sushi-making class that began in January 2014. Today, it holds the record as the longest-running monthly sushi class in San Francisco (note: there was a temporary pause during the pandemic). Just like being featured in the Grammarly ad resulting in unexpected 30 million views, my initial intention wasn't to create the first sustainable sushi class company in the US or have the most extended sushi class in San Francisco. I wanted to offer a fun, entertaining, and educational sushi experience, one type at a time. And now, eight years have passed—it's as simple as that.
Although the class is primarily designed for the general public, I've always welcomed parents to bring their children, as long as adults accompany them. As a result, numerous children have attended this sushi class, including Josh.
When Josh joined the class, it didn't come as a surprise to me. My belief has always been to treat everyone equally, even children. While they may require special attention, I avoid treating them as children. I recall my childhood, yearning for adults to treat me with the same respect and consideration they afforded other adults. That's why my approach is to treat everyone the same, with slightly adjusted language and tone. My intention is always equality.
Occasionally, guests inquired if I teach other classes. Until recently, my response was always a straightforward "No." However, their curiosity sparked my contemplation, leading me to offer an advanced nigiri class. Nigiri may appear simple, but achieving greatness is a true challenge. It took me six months to develop the skills to make it visually appealing and a lifetime to perfect the taste. Yes, it's no exaggeration.
To my surprise, ten people signed up for the advanced nigiri class. Among them, I spotted Josh and his mom walking into the kitchen, exuding excitement. His mom shared, "He loved the last class so much that he wanted to take this one too. He's incredibly excited." Witnessing Josh's enthusiasm, and shouting with delight throughout the class, filled me with immense happiness. It reaffirmed that offering the advanced course was worthwhile.
Following the advanced class, I received an email from Josh's father. He wrote, "Josh requested you to be his caterer for his Bar Mitzvah. Do you provide catering services?" Without hesitation, I replied, "Yes, we do."
Although Breakthrough Sushi is primarily known for sushi classes, many clients must know about our catering services. Our first-ever catering event was a legendary private 40th birthday party at the Computer History Museum, attended by 200 guests.
Josh had grand plans for his Bar Mitzvah celebration, encompassing rolls, sashimi, nigiri, tempura, teriyaki chicken, beef, and interactive "roll-your-own" sushi stations. With a guest count of 60, the Bar Mitzvah would occur at a community center in the San Francisco suburb.
The Third Time is a Charm
Approximately one month before Josh's Bar Mitzvah, he returned for yet another sushi class, accompanied by his dad. Surprisingly, it was the same class he had previously attended—an unchanging curriculum maintained over eight years.
"Josh, you've come back to take the same class?" I asked, astonished.
"He wanted to refine his sushi skills before his Bar Mitzvah," his dad explained.
"Ahh, that makes sense." Naturally, Josh's skills had improved significantly since his first class. He confidently taught his dad how to make a Rainbow roll this time. His confidence was contagious.
Josh was the first to showcase his newfound expertise, proudly presenting a stunning Rainbow Roll. He carried his plate, walking around with a sense of accomplishment.
In my mind, I hear a song by Tom Wilson, the actor who played Biff in the movie "Back to the Future," saying, "I went to the Bar Mitzvah of my nephew, Josh. Now, I am not Jewish, but I like to Nosh."
Indeed, Josh, I am not Jewish, but I do appreciate the joy of rolling. And so do you.