“Environment has made you who you are, but you have the responsibility of who you become.” - Chef Lo, Owner
Imagine escaping a nation with nowhere to turn to, no food or drinks to consume, the sounds of gun fires and grenades going off in the background! That’s what Sourikone Soukhavong “Lo” and his immediate family had to endure during the communist war in the country of Laos. Left with no hope and disparity, they were able to receive help from a Polk County Presbyterian Church. Several sponsors from the church were instrumental helping Lo and his immediate family which included grandparents, uncles & cousins. At the age of 2 years old, Lo and his family had to adapt to a new environment where they did not speak the language or understand the culture.
Lo attended Stephens Elementary, Floral Avenue and later graduated from Bartow Senior High School. With the support of his family and every bit of savings, he attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. JWU is recognized as the World’s largest hospitality educator and holds a distinction in Culinary Arts. After 4 years at JWU, Lo holds an Associate degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors in Food Service Entrepreneurship.
After working at various prestigious restaurants and private clubs, Chef Lo has built one of the most eclectic catering & private chef businesses that service central Florida, Millenia Catering.
Millenia Catering currently has 8 full-time, 4 part-time and 60 on-call team members. The company just reached a milestone of 10 years of service. It reports an annual revenue of 1.4 million dollars. Over the decade of service has produced over 8 million dollars in revenue. The art of food and entertaining is their passion. They believe that a successful event goes beyond serving culinary creations. It requires ingenuity, creativity and services that address the needs of your unique event.
Whether you're organizing a gala for 600 guests at a historic mansion, a beachfront wedding celebration for 100, or an intimate gathering for you and your closest friends at home, Millenia Catering is able to provide you with limitless event design guidance to make your next event truly unforgettable.
What they offer:
Chef Lo continues to give back to the community that once giving so much to him and his family. During hurricane Irma, which many out of food and clean water, Chef Lo and his company donated their time and service to cook over 1,000 meal to feed the community.
Q & A with Chef Lo
~ What inspired you to become a chef?
Working in the food service industry at a very young age, I was amazed how so many parts have to come together to create an amazing event and food was always the main focus. So I decided to further my education by attending Johnson & Wales University.
~ What are some of your creative influences?
Most of my creative influences derive from travel and media. Traveling allows me to understand how and why things are prepared and done the way they are. Media allows me to compare the same dish in many formats.
~ What style of cooking do you enjoy the most?
With the study of classical French cuisine and a South East Asian background, I enjoy global cuisine, cooking without boundaries. Understanding classical dishes and infusing them with another regional dish to create unique flavors is fulfilling. A great example is a Chinese Taco or a Ginger Crème Brulee.
~ What is your favorite ingredient?
I would have to say fresh herbs. Herbs are very delicate and can change the complexity of a dish if it is not handled properly. I like any ingredient that I can go to my back yard, pick it and use it immediately.
~ What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
To really think hard and long if this is the path they would like to mature and grow into.
This is one of the most demanding and time-consuming businesses, if you want to be successful. Also, to understand that this is a “people” business and that to people comes first before money, egos, fortune or fame.
For more information on Millenia Catering, check out their website.