Kenneth Anderson
Cook/Counterperson, Salumi, 309 Third Ave S (Pioneer Square), 621-8772.

Chow editor Min Liao has a fierce crush on Salumi, and damn, so do I. How could any meat geek resist the Salumi seduction? Between the ubiquitous bottles of red wine, the addictive qualities of the oregano salami, and the private group dinners on Saturday nights (book way in advance, or hope for an invite from owner/head salumist Armandino Batali himself--and be prepared to pull mozzarella or help make the gnocchi with the rest of your party), I am completely gobsmacked. If it wasn't for the warm, brisk persuasions of counter maestros like Kenneth urging me though Salumi's long lunch line, I'd probably just stand in the doorway with my mouth agape, paralyzed by cured pork ecstasy.

I would imagine [owners] Armandino and Marilyn Batali are great people to work for....

"They're very good; it's very much a family atmosphere."

You have such narrow confines back there, and this place is always busy--but the customers never seem snippy and you guys are

always in a good mood. How does everyone stay so relaxed?

"We're really lucky with our customers here. I've never worked in a place where the customers make your day--usually the customers are like the enemy. And it's really not that way here. Sure, every once in a while there's someone you don't get along with, but most of them actually become our friends. We have a very loyal clientele. And as far as I'm concerned, I can only work so fast back here, and we can only serve so many people. So there's no point in getting stressed out about it."

How many sandwiches do you think you make in an average shift?

"Let's see... probably 150 or 175."

Jesus. Do you envision yourself staying here for quite a while?

"Absolutely. My education's not complete yet."

What education are you pursuing?

"Just working here has dramatically changed the way I cook. And I really want to learn all about curing meats. I haven't been too involved in that end of the business yet. I've been doing more cooking: roasting, braising, that sort of stuff. So I'd like to learn more about curing. I'm definitely not leaving here anytime soon."

Interview by Hannah Levin