FIRST ON SJO — Yuhi Fujinaga has been named executive chef at Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs. The appointment is expected to be announced Friday by Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, which operates the pan-Asian restaurant.
Fujinaga was previously the executive chef at New York’s Sea Grill, another Patina restaurant. He has also cooked at Manhattan’s Bar Basque and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, and in Spain at Echaurren, Casa Solla and Gaminiz.
The new chef is a native of Hawaii and says that he learned to cook from his Japanese grandmother, who taught him that the quality of the ingredients is as important as technique. Despite that traditional schooling, Fujinaga is known more for his modern take on Asian cooking, something that should fit in well at Morimoto Asia with its more eclectic menu.
Fujinaga said that he first met Morimoto as a young chef in Hawaii and has worked with him at events throughout the country. “I have been inspired by him and his approach to cooking and am thrilled that it’s come full circle,” Fujinaga said.
“Being a great chef comes from within and I know Chef Yuhi is dedicated and passionate to creating inspirational, world-class dishes,” said Morimoto. “I am confident that he will continue to showcase his talent and vision to our guests at Morimoto Asia.”
Morimoto Asia opened in late September with Takeo Iinuma overseeing the kitchen.