Ralph Prado IV has worked in several restaurants throughout Southern California for nearly a decade. Before joining the panel for “What Is a Good Tourism Job Now?,” the inaugural program in “What Is a Good Job Now?,” a new series supported by The James Irvine Foundation, Prado chatted with us in the green room about his first job, being a father, and his favorite road trip snack.
What was your first job?
I worked at Sears, in the electronics departments, in Whittier; I’m from there originally. For Christmas that year, my mom and my sisters got one of those Sears portraits—we got a discount on it!
You’re from Garden Grove. What’s one of your favorite Sublime songs?
What’s one of your favorite places to go in Garden Grove?
There’s a small bike trail that leads to the town center library. We’ll ride our bikes down there—it’s a new paved bike path, there’s ducks, chess equipment.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment; doing it well. I like the customer service side of it. I’ve never had a bad interaction in the drive-thru. When it gets slammed, you get into a pocket, your hands are just moving—I get into a flow state. I really enjoy doing that.
What surprises you about being a father?
It’s cliché, and it only happened recently, but how fast they grow up. He’s so small now and when I carry him I’m like, “No, he’ll never be that small again.” But I’m happy for him. He’s 1 and a half. Seeing him develop more—talk, walk, interact. He understands language more than he speaks, and that’s fascinating.
Do you have a favorite road trip snack?
Sabritones, they’re kind of like a puffed wheat chip. Kind of like a chicharrón. With spicy lemon on it. They will ruin your mouth. But if I have a bag of those, I’m going to eat the whole thing.
How do you unwind?
Usually either hanging out with the baby, going on walks with him—I love a long walk. Or I’ll play online video games with my friends.
What do you think makes a good food service job?
One where you are valued, compensated well, and where the environment doesn’t negatively impact your life inside or outside [the workplace].
What is some good advice you’ve received in your life?
Do it right the first time.
When did you become a vegetarian?
I worked at a BBQ spot in Anaheim, in the dish pit. And then I moved up, and I learned how to break down ribs and chicken—it was kind of morbid.