#LuckyriceHouston: Uchi’s Huan Do on Hurricane Harvey

Photo courtesy of @uchihouston
Paying homage to what it means to be #HoustonStrong, we wanted to give the unsung heroes in the restaurant industry a chance to speak for themselves and recount their experiences of Hurricane Harvey. Here we chatted with Uchi Houston’s Huan Do, a server and bartender who has been at Uchi since September 2013.

How was your restaurant affected by Hurricane Harvey? How were you personally affected by Hurricane Harvey?
Uchi Houston has greatly been affected by Hurricane Harvey. At Uchi, we consider our guests as extended family that we get to see and have fun with for however long dinner lasts. Hopefully, during these last couple weeks and in the upcoming future we were able to provide folks with good food and a fun time, if even for a fleeting moment, before returning back to their lives post Harvey.

As for myself, Hurricane Harvey has helped broaden my appreciation for everyone around me. So many people, from my close friends, to my coworkers, and our restaurant regulars have been so inspirational with their efforts. Within moments of hearing about my situation, I had people offering their services in doing what they could to help in any way possible. Offering to drive through a weather torn city for supplies, to detailing options for plans of action, as well as helping to clean up from the flooding, the desire of everyone to lend me a helping hand was unequivocal.  It gave me a chance to take a deep breath in the middle of all the chaos and take the time to be thankful for everything and everyone I still have.

In light of the disaster, what conclusions and realizations have you been able to draw from the experience that have yielded to the appreciation of the people of Houston and your community? How has the community of restauranteurs in Houston come together?

Houston is a city made of proud, hard working and caring people. Seeing and hearing the effort put forth by every member of the community has been uplifting. We never know what we are capable of until we are tested. Houston has found out that this community, with all these wonderful people, is capable of exhibiting boundless sacrifice for one another, caring regardless of differences, and love that is unending.

The community of service industry workers in Houston has exceeded anything I could have imagined with their response to the crises post Harvey. This industry is built around the honor of service. “Taking *care* of someone comes from the heart. It comes from *your* heart.”

I am so fortunate to work with two restaurant groups with Hai Hospitality at Uchi and with Rocket Farm Restaurants at State of Grace that have reached out and provided not only for their staff in a time of need, but their community as well.  From food donations, to fund raising, and organized volunteer work, I could not be prouder of what my restaurants have done and accomplished. Fortunately for Houston, these people and companies have not been alone in their efforts to help.

The Houston restaurant community is filled with giving people who have experience in providing so much of what folks require in a time of need. This list can go on for quite a while, but here’s a brief shout out:

Thank you to the Caswells for everything you, your staff, and all those who helped y’all in providing so many with meals.
Thank you to Chris Shepherd for Southern Smoke, which helps people with its proceeds every year, but this year will be focusing on Hurricane Harvey relief.
Thank you to the Knights for starting up “Houston Service Industry for Harvey Relief” so that we could come together within the industry and get people the help they need.
Thank you to everyone participating in the Butcher’s Ball, Southern Smoke, and Austin Chefs Night Out: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief.
And thank you to so many more, including (but not limited to) Alba Huerta, the Ortegas, Ronnie Killen, Avi Katz, Jose Andres, and Ming Tsai.

Photo courtesy of @uchihouston
It always seems to take things like natural disasters or deaths to make people value community etc. what do you want the rest of the country to know about your experience or for us to realize?

Well, I would want the rest of the country to understand that Houston has suffered greatly but will endure. We will be back, sooner than you know it, stronger than before as a city, as a community, as a family. However, it won’t come without struggle and without assistance. There are still so many people suffering from the affects of Harvey and every bit helps. I want everyone to realize that we are so thankful for the effort and contribution to relief.

Why is Uchi such a special place to work? 

What makes Uchi a special place to work? How do I even answer this? It is a unique environment where everyone cares so deeply about what they do and are asked every day to show their commitment to their passion.

A great job is one that provides you with the tools you need to succeed, the support you want before you require it, the autonomy to do what you believe is necessary, and an environment that is caring, nurturing, and enjoyable. Uchi is all that and more for me and so many others.

How many people get to wake up and and be excited to get to work? I have it so damn good. Yes, I said it. (We get to use colorful language too)

Photo courtesy of @uchihouston
How do you explain the the cultural connection between food and culture? 

Food and culture cannot help but be intertwined.  One of the simplest ways to get a window into another culture or get in touch with your own is through food. How better to get a large group of people to gather than the offer of a delicious meal? Smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste, food stimulates the senses and creates indelible memories.  You learn so much about a culture through food because it is indicative of their environment, history, and ingenuity.