Way back in 2000, fresh off the plane from Australia, I wandered the streets of Soho, where I’d found a flat, looking for restaurant work. Within the first day or two, I was offered two jobs – one as a waitress at a very informal Japanese, canteen-style place, Satsuma; the other, at a more upmarket, swanky place as front of house/ hostess. Money-wise, there wasn’t much to choose between them, but perks-wise, Satsuma was offering two free meals a day; the other place, a designer suit to wear.
I was barely 27, and impressionable. I quite fancied the idea of managing bookings, assigning groups of moneyed (well, moneyed compared to me at least) types to their tables and engaging in a bit of welcome banter. And I very much fancied the idea of the suit. But I was, as I am now, greedy and, as I’m fortunately not now, pretty broke. Two meals a day. Japanese, to boot. Surely I’d avoid the Heathrow fat Injection (the legendary stone that Antipodeans gain when they arrive on these shores) if I took the job at Satsuma?
So, guess what. I took the job at Satsuma. It was a proper laugh, and the food was fab. I made friends with people I’m still friends with today. And, 13 years ago today, a group of lads walked in to celebrate one of their birthdays. Which is how, in the serving of beer and ramen, I met my husband.
I’m certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’d never have set foot in the other place. Which, incidentally, is no longer in existence – while Satsuma is still going strong. As, 13 years later, are we.