Making Sushi is An Art and Experience is Everything

Featuring Aung Pyae Sone (Kelvin) of Kaizen Tavern Story by Liesel schmidt Photography by Jeff heeney Japanese-style gastro-pub, KaiZen Tavern, is a refreshing twist on what you’d expect in a sushi restaurant, offering rolls that show a flair for artistry and “street-friendly” snacks that prove that food too pretty to eat can still be absolutely delicious. Naturally, all that comes down to the talent at work in the kitchen. The hands that masterfully prepare these dishes belong to some pretty interesting people.

As sous chef to chef/owner Melvin Urrutia, 26-year-old Aung Pyae Sone, or “Kelvin” as he’s called, is hungrily absorbing everything he learns from his head chef, someone he looks up to as a mentor and considers family. Originally from Myanmar, Kelvin came to the United States to pursue his education in California, majoring in Business Administration and Management. Life took him to Pennsylvania, where he found himself immersed in the food industry. At the time, he was just trying to make a living as a hand to the sushi chef in a small sushi restaurant. As time went on, what started as a mere job became a career.

Now part of the team at KaiZen, Kelvin found a place that he truly feels he can thrive. “I see cooking as an art, and it is about creation and learning while doing it—either it’s a good or a bad outcome,” he says. “As a chef, people tend to think we must know everything related to cooking, but in reality, it’s all about finding things out. It’s a privilege to train under Chef Melvin. He’s not only carrying great cooking skills on his shoulders but also his care for his employees, and that makes him different. Each and every one of our team impacts the menu. As the sous chef, I am here to make sure our chef’s creations stay alive at all times, whether he is in the restaurant or not. I see that our food is executed with consistency. I think without my friends and all the great people I have met in the industry, I wouldn’t be where I am at in my career. I can’t wait to meet more as I develop and grow my career in the future.” 1909 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301 •