Chef Kevin Diaz is currently the Executive Chef of LVLUP, and has previously worked for big names like Lamesa Filipino Kitchen and Bymark. According to him, his time at both places has proven to be very influential: the fine dining aspects that he learned while he was a cook at ByMark shows in the food he prepares today, as does the fusion influence in his dishes that comes from being sous chef under Chef Rudy of Lamesa.
Watch out for his Palabok Rice Rolls (and other tasty Filipino dishes) at this year's Kultura Filipino Arts Festival at Artscape Wychwood Barns! Read on after the cut for a short interview about his influences, the endless possibilities in Filipino food, and how family inspires the flavours he tries to bring in his food.
(Q1) What was the first Filipino dish you learned to make? As you learned more about cooking, have you changed the way you make it to reflect your own personal style as a chef?
Kevin W. Diaz: For me, the first Filipino dish I've ever made impacted my style on cooking. Lumpia is hands down in the top 5 of Filipino dishes. The different techniques and variations that can go into making them allows a person to really feed their mood. My mother taught me the flavour I love, but my entire family's diversity inspired me to try something new. As a former sous chef at Lamesa, Chef Rudy allowed me to be creative and in return, we had fun. From the traditional, to "curry duck,” to pinakbet lumpias, the possibilities are endless.
(Q2) What is a unique experience you have had while working as a chef in Toronto that you don’t think you would have had anywhere else?
KWD: Probably the most unique experience, and the most influential towards my aspirations of being a great chef, would be working at ByMark by Mark McEwan. Ingredients that I never knew existed were one of the absolutely positive things about working here. The techniques that these chefs have taught me definitely moulded me into the chef I am today. Through several food tutorials from Chef Brook McDougall, and catering gigs from Chef Sash Simpson, I couldn't have asked for a better outlook on food. These guys opened my eyes and taught me to appreciate quality, to analyze all aspects of a product, precision, and to not just give someone a meal but to give your all in each dish you put out.
Head over to Instagram and check out Chef Kevin for more LVLUP news and good food!