Engaged Employer: Patina Morimoto Asia - Orlando, Florida

Through the Exchange Visitor Intern/Trainee program, our passionate culinary participants are able enhance their skills by training in the kitchen of Morimoto Asia - a restaurant founded by the famous ‘Iron Chef’ Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Jason Pinlac has Jason Pinlac has gained more knowledge of how to prep in a restaurant operation, improved his skills of fish filleting and butchering, and mastered cooking Peking duck. Mona Mae Teodoro feels that she learns something new everday and the continuous education fuels her passion for cooking. Lester Jake Angeles feels pride in recieving compliments from the chefs and appreciates that the chef in his kitchen always take the time to recognize employees hard work and progress. Charizza Louise Ariola has learned to communicate and socialize better in the Morimoto kitchen. The chefs treat her equally to the domestic employees, and it has given her confidence in the fact that she belongs.

The host employer also gains a lot from the Exchange Visitor program. Paul Snyder, the General Manager of Morimoto Asia, shared with us how how the program impacts Morimoto Asia:

Why did your place of business choose to have a J1 program, and how has it been beneficial to the business? We chose to have the J1 program because we felt that it would add a level of authenticity to our business by allowing us to incorporate culinary students from Asian countries. It has been beneficial in that respect and much more as these students have helped provide some insight to their local cuisine and helped us to expand our culinary teams education.

 How has the J1 program had a positive impact on the local staff? Yes, the local staff have really enjoyed learning what Asian food should really be like when a local of the country prepares the dish.

How do you see the participants grow over the course of the program? The participants come as newly graduated students and their time here allows them to actually see what it takes to make one dish for 1000s of guests. This will help prepare them for full restaurant service with a firm grasp of food safety, batch preparation, cost and labor management.

What has been the most positive aspect of the J1 program for you?  Being exposed to new culinary recipes has been the most interesting part for us; the team must prepare a 3 course dinner as part of their graduation from our restaurant. They’re allowed to make anything they like, most of them chose to prepare local favorites that they grew up with.

Why do you feel exchange programs are important to the community?  They give time to help us with a lot of offsite events that benefit local charities and the locals here get a chance to try dishes that are uniquely inspired. Infusing international students into local business helps to spur creativity in the local market by adding new recipes and skill sets that get passed on to local culinary professionals and students.

Photos contributed by Daphne Dinglasan and Kristian Aero Bernardo.