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As the biracial child of an all American white mother from Kansas, and a Filipino father, it’s no wonder that Chef Derrick de Jesus, with his Hispanic last name, when cooking looks beyond the shape and color of any specific ingredient to understand that ingredient’s content of character including its essential flavors. For his cooking, like his life, has been a search for, and understanding of his identity for both himself and his food.
After cooking school, and spending almost eight years working as a good soldier in the corporate kitchens of the Ritz Carlton, at Jackson Hole and for the Patina Group, a six month stage at world renowned Pujol in Mexico City gave De Jesus his culinary direction and inspiration. Working with Chef Enrique Olvera, Derrick learned how to see flavors instead of ingredients. For example what’s a beet? A beet’s flavor is earthy, and sweet with bitter tops. So for De Jesus ingredients are more like cars transporting flavors inside to culinary destinations.
After coming back from Mexico, and then working with Chef Ari Taymor at Salute (now Brick & Mortar), the Alma pop-ups as well as at Alma’s new home in downtown LA as the Chef De Cuisine, Derrick decided he wanted to cook his own cuisine and gave notice last fall.
So now he has been pursuing and further defining what that cuisine is plus has been having “MSG” pop-ups every other week on Mondays at City Sip in Echo Park. These pop-ups began at end of January and have continued to run through February. His last date at this spot was February 18th. He had hoped to have continued access to this location despite City Sip recently closing its doors, but City Sip’s power is being shut-off March 1st. So Derrick is taking his pop-up to the West Side, and will be doing his pop-up every Monday night at the Brick House Kitchen in Venice where he’ll have a better kitchen space, and thus have to make fewer compromises to get his menu out.
Like Taymor, Derrick’s “authorial cuisine” is a reflection of who Derrick is and where he comes from. Though Taymor and De Jesus have some common approaches to food, for example using whole vegetables and limiting items in plates, Derrick’s cuisine is quite a bit different than Taymor’s due to Derrick’s own training and very different upbringing.
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