My name is Adolfo Pucci. I’ve lived in Miami for six years, the same time I started working professionally in a kitchen. I studied culinary to graduate from military college. I saw it as a clear pathway to earning a living when I arrived here. I also saw it as a lifeboat back in my country. I might have gone in the wrong direction if it hadn’t been for the kitchen.

One of the main lessons I have learned is the differences between working in a kitchen with porpoise and foundation and one without it. There is a considerable gap in respect for the product, your co-workers, and lots of discipline. The respect that every person is there adds their piece to the larger picture. We all have a place.

One of the events that made the most significant impact on me was one night when we were working, it was 11 pm, and we were in the weeds. We worked many hours a week, sometimes 80 to 87 hours. 16 hours a day. I was slicing and cleaning the machine. My towel got stuck, and I placed my first three fingers in the middle. The Sous Chef came running over to me, opened a bottle of Brandy, poured it over my fingers, and stuck my fingers in salt. I fainted; I also had the urge to vomit.

But at the end of the night, I felt the need to finish my shift; all that was left was compromise and respect for others. Service ends, we clean the kitchen, and go home.