The life of an international restaurant employee

A ceramic bowl full of lentil soup - restaurant employee

Restaurant jobs are a great way to start or continue your career in the USA.

My friends and I started working when I was in 7th grade, preparing food for weddings on the weekends. I liked this kind of work because you get to be in weddings, meet celebrities, and eat wedding food so it was a three in one. Then I started working in the kitchen and assisting the chef. I learned a lot of techniques and recipes and at the same time, I felt that I could cook and cover for the chef when he was not around. During that time, I felt so good.

In high school, I started to work as a restaurant employee after school. I worked in a cafe and fast food restaurant. After one month, I was promoted to be a supervisor managing 4 people who were older than me. I always tried to work in places where I can learn, have fun, and make good money. When the owner opened a new cafe, I managed it at the age of 17.

It was a successful business for them and a learning experience for me.

During that time I learned how to make all kinds of fast food and drinks, how to serve, and how to manage a team.

I graduated from high school and I decided to study tourism and hotel management. I started to work in 5-star hotels in Baghdad. That was after the 2003 Iraq invasion. I learned all about eastern and western food, food management, and beverages. I learned what each dish contains and how it should be cooked.

From my experience as a restaurant employee and from serving different groups of people, I learned that everyone cares about what they eat and many want to have their food order fast.

What really matters is the customer service and how much care I gave my customers.

After I came to the USA, I found it easy to continue my career, so I started to work as a restaurant employee in the seafood business. It was interesting and I learned all about seafood cooking and serving. Seafood is more sensitive and requires a specific amount of time and temperature to cook.

I am the director of a school cafeteria in Florida and a cooking class teacher of all ages. It has been an interesting experience since I am managing the budget, the menu, recipes, and nutrition.

I am feeding K-12 students food that is healthy, diverse and exposes them to different tastes from different cultures.

My students never liked the soup, and they were never exposed to lentil soup before. I started from year one exposing them to different tastes, and lentil soup was one of them. I will be generous with the Refugee Center Online and share this special dish that is filled with a lot of benefits!

Lentil soup from chef Ali


  • 2 cups purified water
  • 1.5 cups lentils, soaked and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • A good handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste


  1. Heat oil in a pan and gently fry the chopped onions for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped garlic, turmeric, black pepper and, cumin, sea salt and continue cooking for a few minutes more.
  3. Stir in the lentils, add the stock and cook for 35 minutes. Stir several times during cooking, especially towards the end, to prevent lentils from sticking to the base of the pan.
  4. Toss in parsley, stir in lemon juice and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  5. No blending is necessary unless you want it really smooth.
  6. Serve with chunks of crusty bread.

More from the Refugee Center Online

Refugees shaking hands

Start your job search

Learn how to find a job and make a great resume.

Find job help now
About Ali_Aljubiri