By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

It takes a certain person to spend approximately 70 hours a week, if not more, in a restaurant kitchen to oversee the kitchen staff, take care of ordering the food supplies, helping servers, and making sure everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

Some might label it strong work ethic. But for Cesar Vargas, it is not solely that. It comes down to passion and loving to be in the kitchen and interacting with customers.

"I love cooking. I like to learn every day," he said. "You're learning something every single day here."

Vargas, who now is head sushi chef at Sake2Me Sushi Rolls, has been working at the sushi restaurant for two years but has been in the restaurant business for a little more than 10 years.

He has worked in a variety of restaurants and has prepared everything from Mexican to Japanese cuisine and tries to include many different cultural elements in the rolls created at Sake2Me Sushi.

He credits his motivation to have a career in the restaurant business from his family.

"My family, my grandmother and my grandpa, they have a restaurant business in Mexico, and when I was little, I helped a lot," Vargas said. "My mom, she cooks at home, and I would say I really, really like doing this -- to cook. When I cook something, I get into my world. ... It's something you feel, something you like, so that's why."

Vargas, who is from Hays, had no experience as a sushi chef before he started working at Sake2Me Sushi, but he picked it up quickly.

Mike Huskey, owner of the restaurant who taught Vargas the sushi way, said Vargas has his hands full with head chef responsibilities. But he handles it well, Huskey said, and he wouldn't have anyone else as head chef.

"He has embraced the way we do things. ... He has taken it to the next level, too," Huskey said of Vargas.

Vargas' day begins with prep work, which begins anywhere between 7:30 to 8 a.m.

"We prep twice a day," Vargas said. "In the morning, we come in and we come back around 3:30 to 4 p.m. and do another bunch of rice, cut a lot of vegetables, you know, fish, everything fresh."

While time spent in the kitchen always is enjoyable and soothing, Vargas also enjoys talking with cooks, servers and customers.

When Vargas isn't clocked in, he spends his free time with his family.

"I've got a family, I got little kids, a 4-year-old, and I have my daughter, she's 4 weeks now," he said. "I work five days a week, and I take Sunday and Monday off. So I have a date night with my wife and got time for kids, too. So when I got a break, I have two hours, I go home and enjoy my family."