Job Swap: Steph Turns Chef

Brandt Nishimura
Brandt Nishimura

By Stephanie Lum

(KHNL) -There's a lot to keep your eyes on besides the food on the grill at Tanaka of Tokyo in Waikiki!

The spotlight, however, shines on the chefs who are part comedian and part dare devil!

Nothing is ever too hot or dangerous for head chef Brandt Nishimura who plays with fire and juggles sharp knives.

Chef Nishimura has been slicing and dicing for nine years.

"Whenever I wear this hat," says Nishimura gesturing toward his blue chef hat, "I am the most outgoing. In front of customers, I have no fear."

That's what Nishimura thinks, but he's about to meet his biggest challenge yet: teaching me how to be a Teppanyaki chef!

Today, I am stepping away from the news anchor desk to try my hand at his job!

Nishimura hands me a chef uniform and an apron for the messes I am about to make.

"I'm going to be a Tanaka of Tokyo chef," I say, "Here we go!"

But, now that I look like a chef, the question is, can I cook like one?

Nishimura shows me several techniques to juggling a spatula and a fork simultaneously.

"It requires a lot of hand and eye corrdination," Nishimura says.

To make things easier, he compares it to a juggling act and says to keep my wrists loose and concentrate.

After a few tries, and a few fumbles, I finally get it right!

"Okay, I'm just warming up my arm like a baseball player," I say as I get ready to toss a full bowl of fried rice onto the spatula I'm holding in my other hand. "Ready, set, oops! I'm fired!"

The bowl drops to the ground and a deliciously cooked meal is wasted.

But, there's no quitting now! I spot my first guests arriving and looking very hungry.

With utensils in hand, and a smile, I approach the grill.

"How's it going guys? Here are a few tricks that I learned," I say to the customers as I throw my spatula into the air and successfully catch it.

I am a bit surprised by my performance and the crowd laughs which puts me a bit at ease.

However, I'm still nervous about performing the other tricks.

Much to my amazement, I did the "double flip" which is tossing the utensils in both of my hands into the air and catching them.

Next, I serve up some salt and peppered grilled onions and mushrooms and the guests graciously accept it.

The food is served and the guests seem happy!

Chef Nishimura tells me I did a job well done. He says it usually takes a lot of dedication, time and training before anyone can become a head chef.

Next, he will trade his chef hat for a suit and tie as he swaps jobs with me!