Alfonso Verdis' first job was selling vegetables on the streets of Tlapa in Guerrero, Mexico. He was 9 years old, trying to support himself after his mother's death.
"It was hard for me," he recalls. "I decided to come to [America] for that reason. I didn't want to be doing that my whole life." Six years later, at age 15, Verdis arrived in New York City, but food remained his livelihood.
At first the only people he knew were his two sisters, but they were busy supporting their own young families. Eventually a friend's brother found him a job in a restaurant.