It’s quite amazing how things change and evolve. When I was younger, I remember everyone cooking all around me. I can still smell the aromas coming from the kitchen. It’s intriguing what smells and sounds stick with you. The loud voices that accompanied the loud banging of the kitchen pots and pans, while some family members were so quiet in the kitchen – both produced my childhood taste-buds, and I thank them. They were the faces that represented what Filipino meals looked like to me. However, there were absolutely no professional Chefs on TV or in magazines, that represented my heritage and culture. But it’s incredible. Now, 2018, our world is saturated with talent from all countries and from all walks of life. You hear stories all the time of those who quit their corporate office jobs to pursue their dreams.
I think one of the best things that has come out of this evolution and this internet-age is social media. Through social media, there are no limits on who you can meet. The variety of meals and how meals are prepped are endless. We have a bigger platform where we can use voices and share our dreams. You can meet people who share your culture or maybe come across individuals that represent a culture you don’t know anything about. But I think chasing dreams and making them happen is a universal and unbiased part of living. Creating the life you want truly corresponds to taping into your passion and that state of mind that can sometimes be uncomfortable. And I think taking those leaps of faith can bring fear and doubt; I have so much respect for people that design their life – the way they say, and the way they want. It’s brave. It’s authentic. It demonstrates the fact that we were all created differently and the people around us, our peers, the individuals young and old could possibly be inspired by those same people who are their own leaders – and music makers.
I found Lynne Tolentino through another friend who happens to be a part of a largely successful podcast called TigerBelly via Youtube streams, so thank you Gilbert. Lynne’s feed on Instagram instantly caught my attention. Getting to know her has been is pretty amazing, our mini interview has made me proud to know that we share ancestors from the same country, The Philippines. Please read further and get to know one of the top Chefs in California. Lynne, it was a pleasure and I can’t wait to collaborate even further and I’ll see you in Cali girl!
What type of Chef are you?
I was trained Classic French Fine Dining. But now I cook Filipino French Fusion.
When did you find this passion?
I always had the passion to cook since I was 8 years old. As I got older I went to medical school and became a Nurse. As I worked as a nurse I was incredibly unhappy and bored. I made the decision to quit and put myself through culinary school and work my way up the ranks within the kitchens I worked in.
Does it run in your family?
Absolutely, Both of my Parents cooked my entire childhood and as well as both grandparents on each side. Our main conversations I remembered as a child were always revolving around food.
What is your nationality? And what does your culture and heritage mean to you?
I am Filipino, African American, & Italian. My culture and heritage are the most important to me. Growing up, food was for us to survive. My father had a garden where we were taught how to plant and harvest. We were always taught to respect and be thankful to have food in our home, as for some families they didn’t have any. My culture and Heritage have me humbled to cook with respect and love.
What do you enjoy most about creating and cooking?
What I enjoy the most about creating and cooking are putting ideas together. And that anxious feeling to see if what we were brainstorming comes out to what we were expecting. And if it was a fail, then thats more exciting because we learned something new and now trying to figure out what we can do to make it better. I really enjoy learning everyday. Keeps me on my toes and keeps me from being stagnant. I was taught early in my career that learning something new everyday is the most important.
What challenges did you face to get to where you are now?
The biggest challenge I have right now is running the entire restaurant on my own. We don’t have a General Manager at our restaurant because we are a pop-up so I would have to be the Chef & GM. I have a great team for FOH and BOH. We all work great together and make sure that our communication is solid.
Are there favourite dishes you love to prepare?
It totally depends what season it is, but right now my favorite dishes I like to prepare are Soups and Desserts. Recently added our Arroz Caldo (Filipino Rice Porridge) to our menu and our guests love it. It’s really comforting and simple. It has great flavors of rice, onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. We garnish the dish with Seared pork cheeks, Circulated Egg, Quail Eggs, chicharron, and calamansi. I love putting together dessert dishes because its one of the things I feel that I need to work on because I am not a pastry chef. I like to take filipino desserts and incorporate it into something completely different but still have the authentic filipino flavors.
How have you evolved as a person?
I definitely evolved as a person. Being in this industry opened my eyes to hospitality and seasonality. Food makes the world go round, without it we will not survive. I trained under great chefs who were great leaders and I learned a lot from them all. I went from Nursing to the restaurant industry. Two totally different fields but both have one main focus, Customer Service & Hospitality. Having experiences from both fields definitely evolved me to be more Strong, Patient, Humble, respectful, and always hungry to learn.
What advice would you give a young girl or boy who has similar dreams?
My advice to the youngsters: This is a very hard field. Be ready to work many many hours and be underpaid. Its a field of passion, drive, and devotion. Anyone can have passion but without having the drive and devotion, you’ll feel stuck. Things you see on TV are not exactly how it is in the kitchen. Be ready to Sweat, Bleed, and Cry. All of this, will make you a stronger person inside out. Always be hungry to learn. Always be a team player. A chef will ALWAYS BE A COOK, Chefs are nothing without their cooks on their team. Many chefs would say “One Team, One Dream” its absolutely true. The kitchen will be your life and your family. If one fails we all fail. If one succeed, we all succeed.
You can find Lynne Tolentino and her original creations here:
6221 Franklin Ave.
Los Angeles, California