Today we’d like to introduce you to Mia Orino.
Mia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a daughter of an amazing self-taught cook. My mom never cooked professionally but our family entertained a lot. And she spent years volunteering to teach underprivileged women in Manila how to cook and start their own food business. I’m the youngest and I never bothered to learn any Filipino dish but I would always shadow her when I was little and watch her cook. The kitchen was her sanctuary, she would hum while prepping the intricate dishes. It wasn’t until about a year ago when she was diagnosed with Alzheimers that I started cooking, a way to honor her, to preserve her recipes. Also, I found out that Atlanta doesn’t really have a Filipino restaurant except for one in a food court and a food truck in Athens. I felt like the rest of the country is discovering our cuisine and yet Atlanta isn’t. I know that ATL is a foodie city so to find out that Filipino food is nearly nonexistent here, I thought, is kinda sad. I’ve the passion for our culture, heritage, and food so with a little prayer, my mom’s recipes and the people I call family here in ATL, together we started Kamayan ATL with mostly just pouring all our heart and soul and very little capital.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
If it was a smooth road, then it wouldn’t be worth doing. Where’s the challenge in that? So yes, we had quite a few challenges. One of them is not having a lot of the ingredients here. To procure them, we have to drive to Jacksonville or have our friends in other states that have a sizable Filipino community and have several stores that stock up on Filipino ingredients.
We are just getting started and I know we will face more challenges but I have a firm belief that when you surround yourself with amazing people who got your back and want you to succeed, then reaching your goals is just a matter of when not if. Kamayan ATL is family and friends run. We rely on volunteers who support us and see our passion and drive. Fellow foodies who want us to make it. And we have found mentors in David and Tina Nguyen, the chef-owners of Ba Bellies. They have become our chief guide in this journey.
Kamayan ATL – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We come from a poor country. But Filipinos immensely love food and are extremely proud of our cuisine. And no matter how far we have moved or how long we’ve been away from the motherland, we don’t lose that connection to food. We easily adapt to new countries where we end up settling, we may lose the language but not the food that our grandparents, parents fed us. So that’s what sets us apart and what I’m most proud about. We have this strong desire to promote our cuisine, the yearning to have a spot in the American food scene.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success would be when the day ends, you spent it doing what you love most while doing it with the people you love knowing fully well you’re in it together that you have each other’s back and that you both worked on achieving that success and each one gives credit to the other. Success would be having that brick and mortar Filipino restaurant filled with family and friends gathered for a memorable meal. And being able to step back knowing fully well that you trust the people who work with you, that they do care about the company as much as you do.
- Instagram: KamayanATL
- Phone: 678.231,2122
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit for the Flan Cake: @delish.daily Kim Mangahas