Eric Young and KaumiEvery now and then there’s a surprising adventure in the neighborhood – not far to travel but a world away from every day ho-hum. This is about one of those days…

A friend was filming an episode of Animal Planet’s Off the Hook show and I decided to stop by and watch the shoot. Tucked into San Diego’s beautiful, Moby Dick Fish Market & Grill is Kazumi’s Sushi Academy. For the shoot, Kazumi-san, a consumate sushi master, was coaching the pro-wrestler and host of the show, Eric Young, about preparing and eating Uni, sea urchins.

It seemed a simple thing to slip in and watch the shoot during my lunchtime. As I work out of my home office, I dressed up a bit more and put makeup on. This was during the Santa Ana conditions in San Diego – a dry, hot afternoon. So I sprayed my makeup with a finishing spray from Skindivia to hold my foundation in place and am so glad I made the effort.

In I sauntered and found the small film crew. Moby Dick’s owner, Chris Park and his son were sitting at the Sushi Bar and greeted me. The director swooped in exclaiming, “Perfect! We need a woman in the shot!” I was ushered to a seat and the adventure began.

Before long the staff were arranging small platters in front of us and started serving. We enjoyed edamame, fresh jasmine tea, miso soup and then the sushi parade began. I was so glad I’d skipped lunch earlier.

A few hours went by. Eric Young was a gentle giant, charming and funny. The contrast between his bulk and the diminutive Kazumi-san was hilarious. Kazumi-san ruled the scene and we kept eating. It was great fun until the final shot.

A giant platter of Uni was artfully arranged around different vegetables and Eric swept up to serve each of us at the counter. He’d already announced that he wouldn’t be eating any – Uni wasn’t his thing. It has a unique flavor – there’s ocean, a slight sweetness and a texture that, with the freshest product, melts in your mouth. Diners seem to either love it or hate it. San Diego is renowned for having the “Best in the World ” and here was my chance to bite right in.

Luckily I sincerely enjoy quality Uni and this was about as fresh as they come. I wasn’t so thrilled about getting on camera. It’s a girl thing – but at least my makeup was in place!

In the final edit, all Kazumi’s coaching was cut. Last few seconds? My close up!  I use chop sticks and swallow a large tongue of Uni along with an off color joke from Eric! It was all in good fun and you can see the episode here.

Thanks to Moby Dick Fish Market & Grill for the spontaneous feast, to Animal Planet for tweaking my pride and to Catalina Offshore Products for arranging the fishing expedition.

Humbly submitted, Elaine J. Masters

Travel writer, Meetup host with Travel Well, Meet-Plan-Go-San-Diego and Travel Massive. Travel ease books and audio at: