Chef Scott Meinka

 

Scott Jeffrey Meinka was born in Seoul, South Korea and entered the United States through the Holt International Foundation for Children in 1973.  He was adopted by teachers, Richard and Janet Meinka, alongside two brothers.  Raised in Michigan, Scott had a very strong Christian upbringing and enjoyed literature, athletics, and the outdoors.

Growing up, Scott loved to eat so much that his mother thought he had an eating disorder.  He would always be near the kitchen helping his mother, grandmother or great aunt prepare the family meals.  By seventh grade, Scott started following recipes and cooking for the family.  In high school, Bill Gass, Scott’s geometry teacher, offered him a job on his specialty produce farm, Gass Centennial Farms.  Gass Centennial Farms went to the market on the weekends and supplied specialty produce to high-end restaurants within a 100-mile radius.  Literally starting his culinary career from the ground up at the age of 16, Scott developed a quality foundation of work ethic, knowledge, and appreciation of food.

One of the restaurants on his delivery route was the Pike Street Inn in Pontiac, Michigan.  Ran by Certified Executive Chefs Brian Polcyn and John Adamski, they offered Scott his first taste of training in a classical, brigade apprentice-run kitchen.  His own discipline in the kitchen impressed upon Polcyn and Adamski such that their letters of recommendation allowed Scott the opportunity to enter the prestigious Culinary Institute of America at the age of 19.

While attending the CIA, Scott did whatever it took to learn as much as he could and became involved in the Gourmet Society, Service Over Self and the Ice Carving Club.  He also worked diligently with chef instructors as an assistant for demos and local restaurants.  During one of these demos, Scott met Chef Michael Chiarello of Ristorante Tra Vingé.  Located in the Napa Valley, Tra Vingé was where Scott completed his externship and became one of the few externs invited back as a paid employee upon graduation in 1993.

In the summer of 1994, Scott received a call from his closest friend Si Huynh, whom he joined in opening Restaurant Amuse’ in Atlanta, Georgia.  Since then, Scott has made his home in the South where his passion continues to grow, as well as his training in the culinary world.

In 2000, Scott moved to Baton Rouge to work at Koto of Japan owned by Amy Baw, one of the pioneers of Asian foods in the area.  It was here that he made the crossover to sushi.  His enthusiasm grew with every new creation as he blended his knowledge of classical cooking techniques to his and the restaurant’s advantage.  During his four years there, he helped renovate the sushi bar from eight to sixteen seats and added a custom menu selection for valued guests looking for something different.  It was also at Koto where Scott met his future wife, Nga Pauline Le, a native of Pass Christian, Mississippi and LSU student.

Upon Pauline’s graduation, they moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Scott wanted to gain a firm understanding of the sushi market in the area so the first place he went to work was Yuki’s Japanese Steakhouse, a family-style restaurant pioneering sushi and Japanese cuisine on the Gulf Coast.  Understanding the tradition and simplicity of authentic Japanese cuisine, specifically sushi, related to the training that he received at the Culinary Institute of America.

Jeremy Williams, a fellow CIA alumni and owner of Blowfish Sushi Bar, approached Scott to run his restaurant in Ocean Springs.  The challenge of developing a more contemporary product in a new market was irresistible.  He was able to charter new territory while being captain of the ship.  Scott knew that with success at Blowfish he would be prepared to open his own place, which had always been his ultimate goal.

With the support of family and friends, he has been busy developing the business concept into a working plan and is pleased to announce the opening of Fatsumo Sushi, an American-style sushi bar in Gulfport, Mississippi.  It is Scott’s hope that he can continue to serve all the patrons that have eaten with him at his new home, Fatsumo Sushi.

Scott and Pauline are committed to the Gulf Coast and plan to raise their family here.  They look forward to becoming seeded in the community.  They understand that as a community supports a business, so must the business support its community.  In the past, Scott has worked with many nonprofit organizations, such as the Pink Hearts Funds and HSSM and looks forward to being able to host other fundraising events in the future.

Food and the connection it has with people is what inspired Scott Meinka as a Chef for the last twenty years.  His passion for quality and the constant search for ways to better himself are what keep him going.  “I am only as good as the last meal that comes out of the kitchen,” is the slogan he lives by.  There are two kinds of people in Scott’s world-those who “eat to live” and those who “live to eat”.  Wanting to serve them all at Fatsumo Sushi, Scott’s goal for the restaurant and himself is to be embraced by the community, city, state, and country for excellence in management, food quality, consistent service, and an unforgettable dining experience.

 
 

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