Last year, Seito Baldwin Park announced that Chef Huy Tin, who has been with the Seito family for the last decade, has been named Chef-Partner.
Born and raised in Orlando, Chef Huy’s culinary influence stems from his father (also a chef). In 2012, he joined the team at Seito Baldwin Park, moving into the role of Executive Chef in 2017.
Chef Huy’s playful yet refined menu at Seito showcases his extensive culinary background, drawing flavors from many of the cuisines he learned from. The bold flavors matched with contemporary Japanese dishes have earned him citywide acclaim in Orlando, including recognition as Best Japanese (2021), Best Sushi (2021) in Orlando Sentinel, and was named in the top three of the Best Chef (2020) Reader’s Choice awards and Best Pan Asian (2018) of Orlando Magazine.
“My very first day at Seito changed my perception of what restaurant ownership was and could be. I was taken back by the way Sue and Jason kindly and generously treated their staff and the restaurant culture they have created. I accepted the partnership to continue the culture they started, and to give back to the place that taught me so much. I look forward to serving the Baldwin Park and greater Orlando community, and leading Seito forward in exciting ways (stay tuned)!”
We recently spoke with Chef Huy Tin about his background and his plans for the future. If you have not gone recently to Seito, it is a must try – especially that Torched BBQ Salmon nigiri – one of the best bites I have had in 2023!
Tasty Chomps Q and A Seito Baldwin Park Chef-Partner Huy Tin
Ricky Ly, Tasty Chomps: Tell us about your background – how did you get started in the culinary field?
Chef Huy Tin: I was exposed to the culinary world at a very young age at my family’s Chinese restaurant Jade Palace in Longwood, Fl. However, what really sparked my interest was my first job at Tan Tien Oriental market on the west side of Orlando, I got to explore every ingredient in that store and was taught to make family meal for the staff. That led me to Kobe’s Steakhouse in Lake Buena Vista in 2006 where I started learning sushi and eventually worked at every location.
What was the food scene like growing up in Orlando? How do you feel it has changed?
Growing up, my family and I would frequently visit the Mills 50 area, after Sunday service and Fashion Square Mall we would have lunch at Piccadilly’s then grocery shop at the various Asian markets there.
My parents would sometimes drop me off at my uncle’s mechanic shop along Mills Ave called Ho’s Garage to play while they shopped. Mills 50 District in the 90’s had the original establishments such as Vinh’s, Saigon Subs, Viet Garden, Kim Long’s, and Little Saigon to name a few.
Ba Le bakery was my go-to back in high school. It was the cheap, fresh baguettes served with a side of Vietnamese butter, pate, and hot tea. Worth skipping class for! We did not have as many options for dim sum as we do now, Ming Court and Trey Yuen were some of the best growing up, they had aesthetics of centuries-old architecture, sizzling dumpling carts, and live music on the weekends. The dining experience there is unrivaled till this day.
How can you not be excited about the food scene now? The next generation has creativity and well traveled palates. And the far reaching restaurateurs have set a new fabric over the city. Makes me appreciate the past yet excited for the future.
What inspires you when you create your dishes?
I’m inspired by different cultures’ food and how they develop recipes the way they do, especially using common ingredients we all share. Regarding our dishes at Seito, It all starts with our menu’s needs and what’s available in season from produce to seafood, i’m constantly thinking about components to bridge them together. We try to incorporate as much guest feedback into our ideas to deliver a menu that is not only unique but makes sense for our staff.
What are some of the most popular items right now on the menu at Seito?
We’ve added some rustic to our menu with great feedback from our guests. Dishes like roasted bone marrow with onsen tamago, whole lionfish sashimi, make your own duck Bao buns, and whole crispy flounder lettuce wraps. All of which represents simplicity but encourages interaction at the table.
What are some upcoming plans for the restaurant menu in 2023?
We are excited to debut our own oyster, sourced exclusively for Good Salt Restaurant Group! We also have new sushi rolls coming soon!
That Torched BBQ Salmon nigiri is one of my favorite bites thus far this year – tell us about how you make it!
Sue and Jason were the ones who inspired the idea of torching the salmon nigiri. Then, we added our bbq rub and jerk aioli to it, you get this charred caramelized Smokey soft textured perfect salmon bite.
For those who have never been to Seito Baldwin Park before or have not been back in a minute, what would you like guests to know about what dining is like here?
We want our guests to feel our atmosphere, the vibe is important to us. We try to be as well rounded as possible, not one thing overshadows the other. The food, drinks, service, music, lighting, this is our recipe for a great dining experience from first date to family dinner, everyone is welcomed.
Favorite restaurant memories?
My earliest memory was as a kid watching banquets sitting on a stool next to the dish pit at the Suzhou Pearl, the fine dining hall at the Splendid China in Kissimmee, FL. My father commanded his kitchen dropping and firing multi courses as lined up servers waited for his next call, it was exhilarating. I spent many summers there at Splendid China in the late 90’s, my father was the corporate chef there and he would let me go off and explore the park on my own.
Favorite lessons in the kitchen and outside the kitchen?
We often only learn technical skills in the kitchen, things like knife work, recipe reading, counting inventory and so forth, but my favorite lesson from my Chefs was mental strength and agility, you will need it to make it up the ranks.
My favorite lesson outside the kitchen is to take care of yourself. We often abuse our bodies in the restaurant industry with long busy shifts, stress drinking and late nights. Taking care of your body (and your family) is the key to sustaining a happy chef life.
Thank you, Chef Huy Tin!
Seito Sushi and New Japanese Cuisine – Baldwin Park
4898 New Broad St #32814, Orlando, FL 32814