News: Shoya does it all: cook, taste, supervise
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - Looking at the internal workings of Club Iwakuni, there are numerous sections of the kitchen with several chefs prepping, cooking and serving all different types of food. With so many tasks going on, sometimes it takes additional eyes to keep track of everything.
Our next chef in this four part series of culinary excellence is Seiji Shoya, Club Iwakuni supervisor.
Shoya's job title says it all. He taste checks the food, checks to see if the dish is presentable and supervises others to ensure everything is done correctly.
In addition to his supervision, Shoya's 32 years of experience gives him the skills and abilities to perform any task in the kitchen.
"He can do anything in this kitchen that needs to be done," said Troy Guyer, Club Iwakuni executive chef. "He does a lot of hands on, but we've got younger guys working the line. If we get jammed up, I can call Shoya over and he will jump into the line."
Along with his culinary skills, Shoya is also in charge of preparing large events, such as the buffet held in the Club Iwakuni ballroom, large parties and the biggest event of them all: the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
Guyer said that they begin planning for the Marine Corps Ball at the beginning of June by preparing the menu, ordering the food and preparing sample dishes of the menu; which is completed by Shoya.
"Preparing for the Marine Corps Ball is one of the most exciting parts of my job," said Shoya. "Last year, we served about 3,000 people, and to hear all the good comments is what makes me love my job."
As if supervising, planning and cooking weren't enough, Shoya has a hidden talent that pleases the eye instead of the tastebuds.
"He's tremendous at ice carving," said Guyer. "If I need an eagle, I'll make a rough sketch and ask him, 'This is what I need, can you do it? Can you do it in blue?' He's one of those individuals where you teach him one time and he can do it."
Reflecting on how experienced he has become, Shoya looks back as to how his journey began.
"When I was a kid, I never really got to eat a lot of food," said Shoya. "As I was growing up, I knew that I wanted to serve lots of people good tasting food. It wasn't until high school that I started studying culinary arts."
With everything that Shoya brings to the kitchen, he earns the respect of his fellow workers.
"He is the glue that holds the back of the kitchen together," said Guyer. “He's dependable, friendly and always looking to please; exactly what you would want if you were hiring someone."
With the culinary veteran getting close to his retirement, Shoya has already identified his plan for the future.
"Once I retire, I want to open a soba noodle shop in the United States," said Shoya. "Plus, I want to learn more about food from other countries."