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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 3 months ago

Seito Sushi, Osprey Tavern owners Jason and Sue Chin build Baldwin Park’s food scene

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The Baldwin Park couple opened two culinary pillars in their community.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Baldwin Park is known for its beautiful homes, tight-knit community and proximity to Lake Baldwin, but what about its food? 

Enter Jason and Sue Chin.

The owners of Osprey Tavern and Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park’s Village Center are putting their neighborhood on the map for its culinary excellence. 

Seito Sushi has become known for its delicious sushi and willingness to pull from multiple Asian styles of cuisine, while Osprey Tavern has brought a rustic flavor with an American-style eatery.

Jason and Sue have been working in tandem together to elevate Baldwin Park’s restaurant scene for more than 10 years — and they are just getting started.

It all began with Jason’s background in the restaurant business. His parents opened the first Seito Sushi location in Winter Park in 2000. Jason was a dishwasher at age 18 and eventually learned just about every job at Seito — even becoming a sushi chef without any classical training.

“Once I started to train on how to prepare the food — like making sushi — that’s when I really kind of became interested and really enjoyed it,” Jason says. “I came to appreciate what it meant.”

Early on as a dishwasher, Jason also met his future wife, Sue, who was working as a server at the time but also had a passion for design. She eventually left Seito to work on designing theme parks for the next five years.

Jason’s parents opened the Baldwin Park Seito Sushi in 2005, and Jason bought the restaurant about a year later.

“We just liked the whole idea of the urbanism and the neighborhood factor,” Jason says. “We thought it would be just a good other local area to open up one of our restaurants.”

Around that same time, Jason and Sue’s paths crossed again, when Sue came to eat at the restaurant. They got married and the couple undertook ownership of the Seito location together. Sue used her design expertise to make the restaurant what it is today, including her work with the expansion of the restaurant in 2010.

In 2015, Jason and Sue broadened their horizons, opening Osprey Tavern across the street and launching a new American food concept for Baldwin Parkers to enjoy.

“We love Seito and what we do here, but it was kind of limiting us to just doing Japanese food,” Sue says. “We have so many talents here in Orlando, and we wanted to explore other cuisines. We’re like, ‘Hey let’s open up an American place, that way we can actually do everything.”

“I wanted to step out on my own and start a brand from the ground up, because with Seito, it was my mom and dad — I was a second-generation owner,” Jason says. “I was looking for opportunities kind of all across Central Florida to expand, but I kept coming back to Baldwin Park, because the community has been so good to us from the time that we’ve opened. … We wanted to build something special in our neighborhood. We couldn’t think of a better place.”

Seito Sushi and Osprey Tavern both have racked up numerous accolades and awards, with Seito recently taking home Orlando Magazine’s 2018 Critic’s Pick: Pan-Asian, and Osprey taking Orlando Magazine’s 2016 Reader’s Choice: Best New Restaurant.

Jason and Sue also put Baldwin Park in the culinary spotlight with their Beard in Baldwin event, where dozens of renowned local chefs turn the Village Center into a food festival. It’s an event that gives back, as well — proceeds from the ticket sales benefit the James Beard Foundation National Scholars Program, which helps support the next generation of great American chefs.

Jason says their event and their Baldwin Park restaurants are an investment into their community, their home.

They want to put Baldwin Park on the map for its food and eateries — and attract more great restaurants to the area, Jason says.

“We knew what we wanted Baldwin Park to be,” Jason says. “We had an opportunity to contribute in some fashions. It was a no-brainer. It’s always been our desire for the area. It’s such a special neighborhood.”

 

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

See All Articles by Tim

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