Tsunami longtime Chief Operating Officer Fred Nonato and Director of Quality Control Toon Nguyen have bought into the company as minority partners.
Tsunami co-founder Michele Ezell says in a press release that the duo’s equity position is the first move in setting the restaurant group up for expansion. In addition to the original Downtown Lafayette store and Baton Rouge location atop the Shaw Center for the Arts, Tsunami is expanding to Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton this year and has a letter of intent on a New Orleans site.
Nonato has 31 years of restaurant experience, having also worked at Pete’s and Golden China. After receiving his culinary degree in New Orleans, he completed a three-year apprenticeship at Kelsey’s in New Orleans and eventually served as executive chef at Prejean’s. He started with Tsunami in 2002 as general manager, working his way up to COO. He also is a co-founder of Viva La Waffle food truck.
Nonato has won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals at Acadiana Culinary Federation- and non-ACF- sanctioned culinary competitions. He also won Best of Show (three years in a row) at the Anything Over Rice cooking contest as part of Lafayette’s Downtown Alive! series.
“[Nguyen’s] work history follows a path of busser, pizza delivery, newspaper delivery, street sweeper, toy stocker, private investigator, teacher, coach, casino host, construction and demolition,” according to the release, which notes how each of those experiences helped develop his skills as a quality control manager.
According to the release, Nguyen graduated from UL Lafayette in criminal justice and got his start with Tsunami in 2001 as a beginner sushi chef.