Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Sumida Interview
Narrator: Frank Sumida
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 23, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-sfrank-01-0012

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TI: So your parents ran a restaurant, and you had to help out in the restaurant. How about things like cooking? Did you learn how to cook?

FS: Yeah, I learned how to cook.

TI: So why don't you describe that, some of the things you learned.

FS: Well, how to, like I said before, I knew how to roast, I made the best shortrib, and then I made the best gravy because of the residue out of the shortrib. Learned how to make stew, I learned how to make soup, put the flavor, make mayonnaise from scratch, which I don't think nobody can do. It's unheard of because it's all bottled, right? And even in those days, it used to come in big gallon cans, bottles, not small, big ones, restaurant use. And make French dressing, tartar sauce, what else?

TI: And so were these things your father taught you, or who taught you all these things?

FS: Most of that I learned myself. And then out of a cookbook. Dad, he had no time for me. And the reason why I did it was I got curious. You know, those things paid off later because when I went later in life, I knew how to make mayonnaise. And a guy said, "Prove it." And this was a lot later, when I was in Santa Fe. The head cook said, "Show it. Prove it." So I said, "You got mustard, you got this, you got that," and he brought everything else, so I made it. He said, "How come you go only one way?" He said, "You go only one way, if you go this way, you return it to me." That's what I learned, now. so beat it one way. And it took time, and I made it, and you know, that old man, he was the owner of a restaurant in Galveston, Texas, he had three taverns. He's a rich man. And he got caught because he was contributing to Japan, donation. Because it don't matter where you were, the FBI had records. So he was picked up from Galveston and sent to Lordsburg, Lordsburg to Santa Fe. But anyway, he, then I was sharpening a knife one day, this was the first couple days in the mess hall. I was looking at something, talking, and I was sharpening the knife on the steel, you know. He said, "Hey, you're going to cut your hand." I cut my hand already, five years ago, many a times. So he was very impressed. He knew I could make mayonnaise, I was just a young kid, not even twenty.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.