Students at Windermere Preparatory School recently hosted a celebrity guest on campus — and he brought with him some tasty food recipes, too.
Chef Jet Tila visited Windermere Prep to bring his culinary expertise on modern Asian cuisine to students, who got to sample foods such as Mongolian beef and Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls.
But after school was done for the day, Asian boarding students gathered in the school’s Lake Cafe to learn some tips and tricks straight from the chef himself.
“Because we have such a large Asian boarding student population — these are the students that stay away from home for months and months and months — the Asian cuisine to them is a big deal; it’s a (piece of home),” said Orazio Gioiosa, food service director at Windermere Prep. “He (Tila) specializes in these kinds of things. He has a concept called East West, with recipes and menus from all over Asia. He’s here to help us make the meals more familiar to them (the students) and work with the recipes.”
Gioiosa added that Chinese food, for example, is not the same here in the United States as what the students from China know it to be. “Chef Jet” aims to bring the authenticity back into the Asian cuisine and visited the campus to help food-service staff implement it here.
Tila first began working in his family’s Bangkok Market and learned the ancient traditions of Asian cuisine from his Cantonese grandmother. He was also appointed as the first culinary ambassador of Thai cuisine by the Royal Thai Consulate and served in that capacity as the first chef to represent his country’s cuisine in the United States.
He also has competed on “Iron Chef America,” judges on Food Network’s show “Chopped” and even appears now and then on “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
And now in partnership with food-service provider FLIK, he created an “East West” concept in which he added 70 to 80 of his unique Asian recipes into FLIK’s database.
“I’m here as a longtime partner with FLIK to really kind of implement new dishes focused on the growing Asian boarding population,” Tila said. “I’ve gone around the country and trained this to all of our regional chefs, and now we’re implementing it into a lot of our schools, because we’re seeing a very high number of schools with a lot of Asian boarding students. They want a piece of home, and it’s important to them to get a little piece of home.”
Gioiosa said being able to host Tila and have him interact with Windermere Prep students was exciting because the school didn’t previously have the means to do so. The cafe is a new room and now can seat many more students at once.
“Now we can do more of these things and invite more people and have more room to do this,” he said. “I think it’s good that they (students) see these kind of things, and that the parents see these kinds of things, too. This adds value, and we’ll do more (of it).”
Tila also demonstrated to the boarding students a few of his specialty recipes — a Southern Chinese dim sum dumpling and a Vietnamese shrimp spring roll.