Where are you from

I was born in Malaysia


What was it like growing up?

I moved here with my parents when I was a teenager, I lived in NYC for many years.


What brought you to Cleveland?

My wife’s relatives owned a business here so we moved here to help. I then decided to own my own restaurant. They run the sushi bars in the grocery stores  nationwide, they are probably the 3rd largest in the country. I’m the head chef at the sushi bar.  


What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

It wasn’t much different, there are a lot of races and free religion. It was a new experience, I came here as a teenager, and things are changing a lot. You have to think ahead to your future. I came here and focused on what my career would be.


What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Language was my biggest challenge it wasn’t my native language. I think that’s the same for most immigrants English is difficult for most. Nothing helped me, I just had to learn it everyday and practice.


What is your occupation?

Chef and owner of Pacific East – I have just opened a new restaurant in Cedar Center a few months ago called Pacific Grill  that is a new concept that I hope to take nationwide. I always wanted to start my own business, It’s not easy but it’s good to challenge myself.


How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Cleveland is a friendly city, they are way more friendly than those who live in NYC.


What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I started cooking because of my relatives, this is how we preserve the family business. Going back to early childhood my family had a coffee shop so I helped as a child. I had experience in working in the food business.

English is not my mother’s native language so we speak mandarin at home, my children were born here so they speak in English. They understand both but it’s easier for them it’s their first language. We carry Chinese traditions like new year and different things that my great grandparents celebrated in China, who then moved to Malaysia.


What do you love about Cleveland?

Cleveland is not so big but not too small, it’s a great size. You can find a lot of different food here. There’s so much culture and it’s very international. The cost of living is great, houses are cheap- well more affordable. And good education, all my children are high school students so they are preparing for college.


Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

It’s important to help them start their new life. Everybody has the hope of making a better a life. People come here for opportunity.