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Cursed with onions: Life in a commercial kitchen

Food trucks — you see them everywhere.  

Marination is one of the early pioneers of the Seattle food truck business, serving Hawaiian-Korean food. To feed its customers, Marination goes through 100 pounds of rice, 40 pounds of kimchi and 300 pounds of chicken, pork and beef on a typical busy summer day.  

Emily Phillips is Marination’s commissary manager. Phillips and her crew of 10 people cook and prep the food for Marination and its outposts. 

She took us behind the scenes to get a look at what it takes to run a restaurant on wheels:

We cook all the rice, the kimchi, and marinate all the meats, and make all the sauces. All that’s done in a central location. And I manage that kitchen. We’re there from the raw ingredients up until the point that it gets taken to the restaurant. 

I’m cursed with onions. I’ve cut myself three times at this job and every time it’s with onions. Once with white onions, once with purple and another time it was with green onions. Seriously, it’s almost to the point where I don’t want to cut onions anymore because it’s in the back of my head every time!

I get here an hour earlier (7 a.m.) before everyone starts so I can get started: turn the ovens on, put the kahlua pig in the oven. We try to get out of here by 4 p.m. It’s much easier to do in the winter when the volume is lower.

I was hired as a prep cook then promoted after 11 months to manager.

I’ve been in the food industry since I was 16. I’m 28 now. I’ve had brief stints doing other things. I was a screen printer for a while. I worked in shipyards, but most of my job is in this industry; it’s welcoming to tattooed weirdos like myself. 

A lot of food industry can be dead-end jobs, not a lot of room for moving up. With Marination, I’m a testament to being able to grow with the company and that’s awesome. 

I could not work for two better women (owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison). They’re amazing. Respecting them as women business owners helps fuel my dedication to this job.

I don’t eat meat, so there’s really not much that I eat in the kitchen. I’m the only vegetarian in the kitchen so they would make family meals for everyone and make me my own little thing. That’s really sweet. 

Year started with KUOW: 1994