ORLANDO, Fla. – A local Orlando chef is making a name for himself in the culinary arts industry.
At 29, Henry Moso has earned a James Beard Foundation Award nomination, a recognition that celebrates chefs who are part of America’s diverse food culture and are making an impact in their communities.
“The nominee and the whole experience, I’m still in shock,” Moso said. “It’s kind of like the Oscar of the food world.”
He’s nominated in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category for chefs younger than 30, and is the only Orlando area chef to receive the distinguished nomination this year.
"It definitely motivates me to push harder as far as my career, definitely appreciation to my team," he said.
Nominated along with 30 other finalists from around the country, Moso’s story toward success began at 16 after he arrived from his native Laos, small country in Southeast Asia. He recalled it wasn’t easy at first to adapt to his new life in America.
“It’s definitely different-- trying to get used to new friends, new environment, you know, learning the culture,” Moso said.
Along with those trying moments, he learned to work at his mother's restaurant, an experience that nurtured his talent.
“I really fall in love, ever since I worked for my mom’s restaurant. When I first started my mom put me on the dishwasher position, I feel like that was my first job,” he said.
From washing the dishes to being a server and a hostess, Moso says he learned how to be a manager, too. He learned so well, that six years after working for his mother, he took a leap of faith and opened his first Kabooki Sushi restaurant in Orlando. Last year, a second location opened, also in the city beautiful.
He credits part of his success to a few ingredients he makes sure to add every day.
"A lot of energy, a lot of creativity, a lot of hard work," he said.
The winners for the James Beard Foundation awards will be announced March 25th.