This image is part of the ‘Ojos’ bi-weekly series. Ojos is a photo-letter that honors people, their merits, the environment and connects our human experience to community with the use of a camera—here in the Bay Area.
Vidal Bidal asked for this portrait—a moment of self-worth and pride. It was still the morning time, so he and another cook were busy prepping and rinsing off the plastic bins before opening the shop. It’s always an honor when someone asks to have their portrait taken, and I admired his pose, brimming with confidence. Bidal reminded me of all the hard-working people who work in restaurants, specifically the kitchen staff. I had a taste of that world before, working in industrial kitchens and running hot plates to the front where impatient customers anticipated that their food would be served next. Like many industries, there is an underbelly, oftentimes, the people behind-the-scenes go underappreciated, or unknown. Bidal has worked at Taqueria San Francisco for nearly 10 years, a Mexican restaurant that first opened its doors in 1990. The restaurant is located off 24th Street in the historic Mission District. According to Bidal, he works six days a week with Sundays off. He was able to put his children through college, too, which is what many Latin American parents aspire to do for their children. Bidal made his way across the mountains to reach the border from his native city of Guadalajara, Mexico, he tells me. According to Bidal, he lived in the Mission District until his rent increased significantly, forcing him to relocate across the Bay Bridge. This image is a representation of the resilience that breathes life into the Mission District, and the collective fabric of the Latino diaspora.