Smoker Cookbook by Paul Rodgers – ISBN: B07L1DTWN8

  • Full Title: Smoker Cookbook: Complete How-To Cookbook for Unique Barbecue, Ultimate Guide for Smoking All Types of Meat
  • Autor: Paul Rodgers
  • Print Length: 90 pages
  • Publisher: 
  • Publication Date: November 30, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: B07L1DTWN8
  • ISBN-13: 
  • Download File Format | Size: epub | 4,11 Mb
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Smoker Cookbook: Complete How-To Cookbook for Unique Barbecue,
Ultimate Guide for Smoking All Types of Meat: By Paul Rodgers

There is nothing as cozy and pleasant as the sublime taste of smoked meat. Smoking meat is both a science and an art and everyone can add to it his or her style and more; few things more delicious than smoked meat. It’s both an art and science, and everyone has different ideas concerning style, process, and more. And on this framework, I offer you this smoker recipe cookbook that will offer you a wide variety of smoked recipes based on simple ingredients and according to easy-to follow instructions.

This cookbook will help you to smoke:

  • Beef

  • Pork

  • Lamb

  • Rabbit

  • Fish

  • Seafood

  • Poultry

  • Game

  • Veggies

So if you are still reluctant about the best way you can cook your favourite meat with, this cookbook can help you start and lead you through your best cooking journey. Smoking food is a cooking technique that dates back to before chemicals and refrigerators were invented. And smoking food is one the healthiest cooking methods you can ever choose to use. In addition to the great pack of flavours and glazes, the wide variety of recipes you will find in this book will make you feel that food can bring life to your dishes and can break your daily routine.


Editorial Reviews




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Click here for a sample recipe – Wagyu Steak Sandwich

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Title Page

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People often look at me with surprise and ask me why, when, where and how I got into food, let alone have my own food show on television. The truth is, whilst I can chart how it all happened I am still somewhat surprised, perplexed and very happy that it did.

Without going through my family history, somewhere along the way I developed not just a love of food but also a love of cooking. I put it down to the fact that ever since I was a young boy I have always been a performer and a large part of being a performer is about being creative. Having a love of food is a good place to begin the journey into diverse and fulfilling food experiences, along with the understanding that food is about creativity and the ability to express your personality. Just look at all the rock star chefs we have on television now, they are all about expressing themselves and their art. I have done this all my life through dance, choreography, acting and now, through my cooking — and don’t I feel lucky!

My very first TV cooking appearance was back in the mid-seventies when I appeared on the Helen O’Grady show making a toasted cheese sandwich — the perfect after-school snack. Helen O’Grady was one of my first drama teachers at John Curtin Theatre Arts High School, a rather out-there lady who wore very large jewellery, had big hair, wore lots of make-up and just happened to have her own afternoon kids show on TV in Perth, Western Australia. I am horrified to remember that I used single sliced and wrapped processed cheese which melted under the studio lights. Thankfully I have moved on from that.

My next foodie experience was when I scored a job at my local Red Rooster outlet. Red Rooster is a chicken chain serving up the usual fare of roast chicken, chips, peas, gravy, corn and I was their new head chef at the ripe old age of 16. Yep, for $1.45 per hour I cooked, cleaned and served up everything. Looking back on it now it amounted to slave labour but I also learnt how to work hard, respect my ingredients and have integrity in my work. One of the best things about the job was back in those days (late seventies) when I made the chicken rolls, I would use the left over chickens from the day before. As there was no meat on the wings they were supposed to be discarded but I would fill up bags of them and keep them in the fridge. Then at the end of the night I would make sure to cook extra chips just in case we had a late run for them. At the end of the night my mum and I would go home with a couple of bags of hot chips and cold wings to a house full of friends waiting for a feast.

One of the managers at the store when I started was a Bangladeshi guy called Gerry who left Red Rooster to start his own place cooking traditional Bangladeshi and Indian food. I used to go down to his market stall and help him cook and serve customers on weekends. During this time I also met a Chinese martial arts instructor, Jonny, who also had a stall at the markets. I became friends with him, often hanging out at his stall helping where I could with cooking or serving. At the time, I was a full-time student with the Western Australian Ballet Company and Jonny, in between cooking and prepping food, would give me special Chinese liniments to help with sore, strained and often torn muscles. These guys were great as they had a passion for their traditional food and a desire to share that with people, they opened my eyes and taste buds to world cuisine. They also had a great zest for life and it seemed to me that their food brought them joy — cooking and sharing was as necessary and natural as breathing. I would like to think that this was their gift to me.

Mum was a good cook but as we were a family of five living on a single income, there really was not a lot of room to play with ingredients or to get too fancy. We used to eat a lot of lamb, or I should say mutton, as Mum would buy a side of lamb for a pretty cheap price and we would diligently eat our way through it. I love lamb but to this day my brother and sister have difficulty sitting down to a meal of it.

When I left home and moved to Melbourne to study at the Australian Ballet School, I got a job working at Taco Bill, a Mexican restaurant. I started out making the dips and the salads, which was fun and I was about to be promoted to the ovens but alas my dance studies were suffering and I had to give my nightly cooking career away. However, being away from home meant cooking every meal for myself and thus began my journey into produce, experiments, burnt toast, weird concoct
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John and took my first loaf of bread out of the oven. The bread and the crackling of the crust just didn’t stop singing to me. I hung up my chef apron and put on a baker’s one, and never looked back.

I owe Fergus Henderson and his partner and co-founder of St John, Trevor Gulliver, so much. There were many joyous occasions at St John, but one of my proudest was receiving our first Michelin star when I was Head Baker and Pastry Chef.

A few months after leaving St John, a fellow baker, Matt Jones, called me and told me he had found a site for a bakery in Borough Market and asked whether I would be interested in coming on board. I said ‘hell, yeah’ and we opened Bread Ahead in the summer of 2013.

Bread Ahead stands for British baking; we bake our bread using British wheat but use lots of sourdough and long fermentation. We bake early in the morning and throughout the day (so no more night shifts) and we have large windows at the front of the bakery so people can come and watch us working our magic, but also we get to see daylight – happy days.

We are opening a bakery school alongside the bakery, teaching people how to make bread, cakes and, of course, doughnuts – but I hope that you can learn the ropes through experimenting with the recipes in this book.

I have worked in every section in a kitchen, from kitchen porter to head chef, and I’ve found the baker’s life the hardest – but it’s a passion and I love it, and it’s become a way of life.


A baker’s life isn’t all bread. I started making my doughnuts in 2003 when St John Bread & Wine opened, but I had many teething issues with getting the recipe right, from the sweetness of the dough to the length of the proving and cooking times, and even the yeast amounts. Yes, we did have exploding doughnuts. After many trials, I got there, and I think they are perfect. I’ve made them for a prestigious lunch for the world’s fifty best restaurants and I even took my fryer to Glastonbury in 2013 where I rocked at the Beat Hotel, frying doughnuts until the early morning, and launched my violet custard doughnut with sugared violets and Parma violet sprinkle. So turn to here and you can enjoy all my hard work and make the perfect doughnuts too.


Every recipe in this book has been carefully tested and timed, so you can easily see at a glance how much time you will need to prepare and make or bake it. If you want to make my sourdough, for example, you will need to start your mother a week in advance.

It may sound like obvious advice, but read through the recipe carefully before you begin. It’s important to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and the right equipment (baking is an exact science, and even if you follow a recipe exactly, if you use a 28cm cake tin when the recipe has been designed for a 23cm tin, then you are not going to get the right results).

Finally, quite a few of the recipes in the book call for things from the Store Cupboard chapter here, whether it’s jam, chocolate sauce or butterscotch, so check what you need before you begin and stock up your cupboard.


Breakfast bun scrolls

Sugar glaze

Old-fashioned english muffins


Breakfast pancakes

Grape nuts

Granola clusters

Fruit granola

Flapjack breakfast bars

William’s spud fry

The full monty soufflé


They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but, as a baker, when most people are having their breakfast I am usually tucking into my dinner with a glass of wine.

Breakfast happens at very different times: when working through the night, breakfast could be at 10 p.m. (that’s when William’s spud fry is perfect), but most of the time it’s bread or toast or granola – the clusters are brilliant for when you’re on the go, as are the flapjack bars.

If you ever need to score a few brownie points, pull out the full Monty soufflés and serve them in bed with some bubbles.

I also love to go out for breakfast at good restaurants in town (London), like Quo Vadis, One Leicester Street, Smiths of Smithfield and, for the best bacon sandwich, St John Bread & Wine – you get to have a bit of glamour without breaking the bank.


I developed these buns for the St John Hotel breakfast menu, as we wanted something different from the normal pastry offerings. These amazing buns are a cross between the softest buttery bun and pastry.

Makes about 20

Suitable for freezing (cooked, or rolled raw, or sliced)

Preparation time: 50 minutes

Proving/resting time: 8 hours and/or overnight

Cooking time: 20 minutes

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g fine sea salt

10g fresh yeast, crumbled

350ml full fat milk

250g unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and mix t
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Chicken Cacciatore

Keith Young

Freeport, Long Island, NY

3. Meatloaf

Jack and Rocco Collucci

Hyannis, MA

4. Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Delilah Winder

Philadelphia, PA

5. Fish and Chips

Mat Arnfeld

New York City, NY

6. Cheesecake

Alan Rosen

Brooklyn, NY

7. Cuban Roast Pork

Roberto Guerra

Miami, FL

8. BBQ Spare Ribs

Buz Grossberg

Richmond, VA

9. Cupcakes

Terri Wahl

Los Angeles, CA

10. Hot Dogs

Richard, Gloria, and Beverly Pink

Hollywood, CA

11. Buffalo Wings

Drew Cerza

Buffalo, NY

12. Sticky Buns

Joanne Chang

Boston, MA

13. Hot Browns

Joe and John Castro

Louisville, KY

1. Crêpes

Andrea Day-Boykin and Nessa Higgins

Austin, TX

2. Puffy Tacos

Diana Barrios Treviño

San Antonio, TX

3. Jerk Steak

Nigel Spence

Mount Vernon, NY

4. Chicken Fried Steak

Paula Deen

Savannah, GA

5. Fruit Pie

Janet LaPosta and Ally Taylor

Rockland, ME

6. Crab Cakes

Mitch Weiss

Boothbay Harbor, ME

7. Muffuletta

Mike and Jack Serio

New Orleans, LA

8. Blondies

Tom Finney and Mark Ballard

Columbus, OH

9. Meatballs

Mike Maroni

Northport, NY

10. Ice Cream Sundaes

Julia Reynolds

Greenwich, NY

11. Lasagna

Mark Bove

Burlington, VT

12. Turkey and Dressing

Renee Ferguson

Geneva, IL

13. Gingerbread

Johanna Rosson

Macomb, IL

1. Biscuits and Jam

Carol Fay

Nashville, TN

2. Ice Pops

Norma and Irma Paz

Nashville, TN

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pam Weekes and Connie McDonals

New York City, NY

4. Eggplant Parmesan

David Greco

Bronx, NY

5. Chicken and Waffles

Melba Wilson

New York City, NY

6. Pretzels

The Pretzel Boys

Philadelphia, PA

7. Arroz con Pollo

Jorge Ayala

New York City, NY

8. Grilled Cheese

Connie and Bill Fisher

Collingswood, NJ

9. Dumplings

Sohui Kim

Brooklyn, NY

10. Pulled Pork

Lee Ann Whippen

Chesapeake, VA

11. Arepas

Maribel Araujo and Aristides Barrios

New York City, NY

12. Rematch on the Grill

Butch Lupinetti, Delilah Winder, Nigel Spence, and Tobin Ellis

Miami, FL

1. Coconut Cake

Robert Carter

Charleston, SC

2. Moules Frites

Teddy Folkman

Washington, DC

3. Seafood Gumbo

Poppy Tooker

New Orleans, LA

4. Paella

Gerard Nebesky

Occidental, CA

5. Chiles Rellenos

Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin Del Campo

Bell, CA

6. Brown Bag Apple Pie

Dan Scheel and John Bauer

Mukwonago, WI

7. Red Velvet Cake

Raven Dennis

Brooklyn, NY

8. Bûche de Noël

François Payard

New York City, NY

9. Deep Dish Pizza

Marc Malnati

Chicago, IL

10. Falafel

Einat Admony

New York City, NY

11. Chocolate Bread Pudding

Jerome Chang and Chris Chen

New York City, NY

12. Cioppino

Phil DiGirolamo

Moss Landing, CA

13. Sushi

Philip Yi

Los Angeles, CA

1. Pad Thai

Nongkran Daks

Chantilly, VA

2. Ravioli

Robert Durso Sr. and Robert “Bobby” Durso Jr.

Flushing, NY

3. Chicken Pot Pie

Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook

Austin, TX

4. Blueberry Pancakes

Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman

New York City, NY

5. Matzoh Ball Soup

Jeff Nathan

New York City, NY

6. Shrimp and Grits

Joe Barnett

Washington, GA

7. North Carolina Ribs and Beans

Ed Mitchell

Raleigh, NC

8. German Chocolate Cake

Aliyyah Baylor

New York City, NY

9. Fried Fish Escovitch

Sheron Barnes

New York City, NY

10. Country Captain Chicken

Matt and Ted Lee

Charleston, SC, and New York City, NY

11. Fish Tacos

Cesar Gonzales

San Diego, CA

12. Green Chile Cheeseburger

Bob Olguin

San Antonio, NM

13. Sloppy Joes

Andrew and John Schnipper

New York City, NY

1. Steak Fajitas

Father Leo Patalinghug

Emmitsburg, MD

2. Barbecue Chicken and Potato Salad

Brad Turner

Fort Lee, VA

3. Lobster Club Sandwich

Lynn Archer

Rockland, ME

4. Pumpkin Pie

Michele Albano

Norwalk, CT

5. Feast of Seven Fishes

Pellegrino family

New York City, NY

6. Manhattan Fish Chowder

John Addis

Brooklyn, NY

7. Liège Belgian Waffles

Thomas DeGeest

New York City, NY

8. Chocolate Brownies

Shawna Lidsky and Katherine Hayward

South Hero, VT

9. Burritos

Victor and Miguel Escobedo

San Francisco, CA

10. Omelets

Misty Young

Truckee, CA

11. Stuffed French Toast

Omar Giner

Hoboken, NJ

12. Cuban Sandwich

Nick Vazquez

Jersey City, NJ

Name: Butch Lupinetti

Hometown: Mount Laurel, New Jersey


“I was completely and utterly surprised when Bobby showed up in my yard. I didn’t know what to do, so I gave him a big bear hug. Bobby spent his Sunday afternoon talking to my friends as if he had known us all of his life. What a great gu
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n to 375°F.

Serves 4

Finely mince the ham chunks. Thoroughly mix in the pepper, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Add butter to Ingredients

moisten if the mixture does not stick together.

2½ pounds cooked ham, chunked

1 teaspoon black pepper

Firmly pack the ham mixture into an 8×8-inch glass ½ teaspoon cinnamon

dish. Bake on the middle rack for 35 minutes. Remove ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

from the oven and carefully pour off the grease.

½ teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (optional) Chill in the refrigerator until completely cool.

Serve in slices.


–   Minced Salt Fish

Prep time: 2 hours, 25 minutes; Cook time: 25 minutes; Boil the fish over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until Chilling time: 30 minutes; Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes cooked through. Remove from the water and set aside to cool.

Serves 4

Once cooled, mince the potatoes and fish and mix them Ingredients

together. Press the mixture into a small skillet. Turn 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chunked

the molded fish out onto a plate and refrigerate it until 1 pound cod fillet

it is chilled through.

6 slices salt pork

½ cup milk

Wash the skillet and fry the salt pork over medium-low 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

heat to extract the most grease. Remove the pork, leaving the grease in the pan. Increase the heat to medium.


Boil the potatoes over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Remove from the water and refrigerate for at least two hours.


Return the shaped, chilled fish mixture to the skillet.

Uncover and stir the butter into the center of the fish Do not press it down. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

mixture. Loosen the crust from the sides of the skillet with a knife and turn the fish out onto a dish. If done Uncover and pour the milk into the center of the fish.

correctly, it will come out whole and browned. Serve Cover the pan again and cook for 5 more minutes.

with tartar sauce or mayonnaise.

Uncover and stir just the center of the fish mixture. Do not disturb the bottom or sides, or else a crust will not form. Cover the pan again and cook for 5 more minutes, or until heated through.


–   Pickled Eggs

Prep time: 12 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes; Steps

Total time: 32 minutes

Boil the eggs for 12 minutes, then immediately place them into ice water to make peeling easier.

Makes 1 (1-quart) jar

Peel the eggs and place them in a quart mason jar with Ingredients

the salt, peppercorns, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.

12 eggs

2 cups ice water

Boil the beets over medium heat until fork-tender, 2 teaspoons salt

about 15 minutes. Remove them from the water and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

mash them. Mix ½ cup vinegar into the beets. Pour the 6 whole cloves

mixture over the eggs and add the remaining vinegar.

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 small beets, peeled and chunked

Cap the jar and process in boiling water.

1 cup distilled white vinegar, divided

For canning: Sterilize a Ball mason jar or similar by boiling it in water for 10 minutes. Fill the sterilized jar with the prepared recipe, leaving ¼” headroom. Wipe any drips, close the jar, and set it upside down. The jar is sealed when it has made a popping sound. Once cool, label the jar and store it in a cool, dark, dry place.



–   Preserved Tomatoes

Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: 3 hours; Reduce the water to a simmer over medium heat and Total time: 3 hours, 5 minutes

add the sugar. Tie the lemon and ginger in a cheesecloth bag and add to the simmering water. Use a paring Makes 1 (1-quart) jar

knife to remove the tomato skins and add the tomatoes to the simmering water. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours.


2 pounds Roma tomatoes

Remove the tomatoes from the water and place them 2 pounds sugar

in a quart mason jar. Discard the cheesecloth bag. Pour 1½ lemon

enough of the water mixture over the tomatoes to fill ¼ pound ginger root

the jar.


Cap the jar and process in boiling water, or store in the Blanch the tomatoes for one minute in just enough freezer.

boiling water to cover them. Immediately place the tomatoes in ice water to cool.



–   Mrs. Reed’s Brown Bread Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 4 hours; Steps

Total time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

Whisk together the molasses and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the dry Makes 2 loaves

mixture into the molasses mixture until they are fully incorporated. The batter will appear grainy and have a Ingredients

cake-batter texture.

1 cup molasses

3 cups buttermilk

Fill a greased loaf pan halfway with batter. Cover the 2 cups cornmeal

pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

3 cups flour

1½ teaspoons baking soda

Fill the bottom of a large pot with 2
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e the almond solids to extract as much almond milk as possible (the more liquid you squeeze out, the richer your almond milk will be). This will make about 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups). Refrigerate in a sterilised bottle for up to 3 days.

To make the porridge, combine the rolled oats, cinnamon, 700 ml (24 fl oz/2¾ cups) almond milk and a pinch of sea salt in a saucepan over low–medium heat and bring gently to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5–6 minutes until the oats become creamy. If the porridge becomes too thick, add a little more almond milk. Discard the cinnamon and serve the porridge scattered with dates and pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.


I reckon knowing how to make an omelette is an excellent life skill (it’s also an excellent test of a chef’s skills) – it really is the answer to almost any food-based indecision as it’s just as good for lunch, dinner or supper as it is for breakfast. Once you master the technique, the fillings are up to you.

Preparation Time 20 minutes | Cooking Time 5 minutes | Serves 1

80 g (2¾ oz/1/3 cup) butter, diced

1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely crushed

100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) baby English spinach

3 eggs

20 g (¾ oz/¼ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

Coarsely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, to serve

Heat a third of the butter in a non-stick frying pan (about 20 cm/ 8 inches in diameter) over a medium–high heat until the butter foams. Add the spring onion and garlic and sauté for 1–2 minutes until tender, then add the spinach and toss quickly over the heat to wilt. Season and tip into a sieve to drain any excess liquid.

Wipe out your pan with paper towels, return to a medium heat and add the remaining butter. Quickly crack the eggs into a bowl, season and whisk with a fork (you just want to break the eggs up without incorporating too much air). When the butter is foaming, add the eggs to the pan, then as the omelette edges begin to set, slide a heatproof spatula under an edge, lifting and tilting the frying pan so the uncooked egg runs underneath – after about 45 seconds the eggs will be almost three-quarters cooked. Scatter with parmesan, then the spinach and cook for another 20 seconds, then tip the pan up and allow one side of the omelette to fall on to its opposite side. Slide the omelette out of the pan onto a serving plate and serve hot, scattered with extra parmesan and coarsely chopped parsley.


I love the salty-sweet combo of this salad – it’s the perfect cool down on a hot day. Pomegranate adds the most beautiful texture and tart flavour. The trick to getting the seeds out of a pomegranate easily is to roll it firmly on a bench before you break it open. This loosens the seeds from the membranes that hold them in place, making it much easier to get the little beauties out.

Preparation Time 20 minutes | Serves 4 as a side or light meal

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into chunks

40 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Seeds from ½ pomegranate

1 small French shallot, thinly sliced

35 g (1¼ oz/1 cup) wild rocket (arugula)

1 large handful mint leaves

2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

½ small garlic clove, finely chopped

Sumac, for dusting


150 g (5½ oz) feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

½ small garlic clove

To make the whipped feta, blend the ingredients in a blender or small food processor until smooth, season to taste and spread over a serving platter.

Arrange the watermelon over the whipped feta and scatter with the almonds, pomegranate and shallot, then with the rocket and mint leaves.

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, juice and garlic in a bowl to combine, season to taste and drizzle over the salad. Scatter with sumac and serve.


I reckon butter lettuce is underrated – I love to combine its tender leaves with crunchier cos, along with spring vegetables such as freshly podded peas and broad beans. Preserved lemons add a distinctive salty tang to the salad.

Preparation Time 15 minutes | Cooking Time 3 minutes | Serves 4 as a starter or side

100 g (3½ oz/2/3 cup) podded peas (about 300 g/10½ oz unpodded)

100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) podded broad beans (about 350 g/12 oz unpodded)

3 preserved lemon quarters, rinsed

2 butter lettuces, outer leaves discarded

2 baby cos lettuces, outer leaves discarded

1 large handful mint leaves

100 g (3½ oz) goat’s cheese

60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) lemon-pressed olive oil (see note)

Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Blanch the peas and beans together in
mber because I envied them. And perhaps I was a bit lonely.

On days off, we had a few hours of freedom in the evening after we finished doing all our chores. The other two went drinking, but being underage, I couldn’t. Instead, I would go to the movies. There were many theaters near the restaurant, and I often got free tickets at the local public bath. Not having much money, I was very grateful for those tickets. I loved movies like A Man from Abashiri Prison starring Ken Takakura. Afterward, I would eat at a nearby cafeteria and then go home to sleep. That was the kind of life I led.


Live-in apprentices were guaranteed one thing only: a room. Initially, my wages were so low that I couldn’t even buy myself a knife. I was dying to have one of my own, and a senior coworker gave me one of his that was broken. “Here,” he said. “If you can fix it, it’s yours.”

I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity. I had some experience sharpening chisels and planes in the workshop at my family’s business, and so I took it apart, then sharpened and reconstructed it. When I was done, I showed it to my coworker. “I did it!” I announced.

He took the knife and just said, “Thanks.”

I wanted to accuse him of breaking his word, but the pecking order in the restaurant business was very strict, and I had to take it without complaining. This incident, however, fueled my fighting spirit, and I was determined to show him up by becoming better than him at whatever I did.

I also had to endure being on probation. As a minor who had caused a serious accident, I was required to visit the probation officer once a month until the age of twenty to have my probation book stamped. My boss and his wife, both of whom knew this, would give me permission to leave work early whenever the day for my visit came around. I walked the few blocks from our restaurant to the probation officer’s house. My probation officer was a woman named Mrs. Yamada, and I had to report to her what I had done during the last month and have her stamp my book. I was still feeling defiant, and that probably showed in my attitude. Sometimes she would pop by the restaurant and look inside on her way somewhere. I could feel her eyes on me, and it hurt my pride to be under constant supervision. Although it was my own fault, I still found this hard to bear. Looking back on it, I’m just glad that I didn’t give up.

I was so intent on proving to those who “spied” on me that they were wrong that I showed up faithfully every month to have my book stamped. These efforts were rewarded. My probation, which should have lasted until I reached maturity, was terminated after just one year. I was told that I didn’t need to come anymore and given a necktie, five 100-yen coins, and a certificate. I shredded the certificate as well as the stamp book that I had used for the last year and slashed the tie into pieces with a pair of scissors. That’s how immature I was, even though I was an apprentice sushi chef taking my first steps toward my goal.

But those years of persevering at the bottom of the pecking order and enduring the humiliation of constant supervision were a priceless period in my life. I had announced to one and all that I would become a sushi chef, and if I gave up, I would look like a fool. This knowledge drove me on. Having been expelled from school, nothing was going to make me deviate from this path, regardless of any wounds to my self-esteem. That, I think, is why I was able to stick it out to the end. To lose my temper would have meant the end of everything.


I later learned that if I had worked for a larger restaurant, I could have lived in a nice dorm. The master of Uokou, who had introduced me to Matsuei-sushi, had connections to some famous establishments. But he had introduced me to Matsuei-sushi instead because he believed that my boss’s caring attitude was more important. “The master of that restaurant is a good man,” he told me. Also, being as young as I was, I am not sure that I would have thrown myself so single-mindedly into my work if I had lived in a dorm with a lot of people my own age.

My mother must have been far more reassured to know that I was working for a “fine man” rather than for a “fine shop.” I now know that the character of the people who work at a restaurant is more important than its size or reputation. I would rather be known as a good man than for my restaurant to be known for making money. Even so, my mother must have been terribly worried. Yet she never stopped believing in me. This motivated me to keep on trying. When a child knows that his parent believes in him, he simply cannot betray that trust. Trust, not doubt. That, I believe, is the foundation of the bond between parent and child, as well as that between master and apprentice.

The owner of Matsuei-sushi was c


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