Post by Ashlyn Perri, CAAM
While eating at a diner one day, Director Anthony Lucero saw the Latino dishwasher in the back and wondered, “What does he want to do with his life? What does he aspire to be?” Thus came the inspiration for his directorial debut, “East Side Sushi,” which follows Juana Martinez (Dianna Torres), a single mother working to support her aging father and young daughter. After being robbed at her family’s fruit stand, Juana gets a job at a local Japanese restaurant. Her growing passion for sushi and her talent in the kitchen do not go unnoticed by Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi), the lead sushi chef. However, she is met with opposition by the restaurant owner, as she does not meet the traditional expectations of a sushi chef. To prove her worth, she enters a sushi making competition, where she showcases her signature roll: the Green Diablo Roll. This bittersweet film, a Bay Area local production, explores the very real notion of food authenticity through the lens of gender and race.
I sat down with Lucero during CAAMFest 2014 to talk about the making of the Green Diablo Roll and why he believes this story is important.
How did you come up with the Green Diablo Roll?
AL: I was trying to think how could we wrap sushi without using the nori. I saw a poblano pepper and was like maybe. So I wrote [in the screenplay] that she wraps [the sushi] in the poblano pepper. I didn't even know if that was possible. When I gave [the screenplay] to Tomoharu [Nakamura]—the sushi chef consultant on the film—to look at, I wasn't sure if he would understand. He calls me up one day and he's like, “Come to the restaurant, I want to show you the competition food.” So I go to Tomoharu’s restaurant [and] he does the Green Diablo Roll! I was like, “Is that a roasted poblano?” I was freaking out. He totally shocked me! He said it was very difficult to make the Green Diablo Roll, to actually get the pepper just flat and straight. You have to peel off the skin and just roll it perfectly.