Second part of two parts. Please read first part by clicking here.
Derrick’s upbringing is the exact opposite of what’s you’d expect a chef’s life story to be. His parents divorced when he was four, and living with his mother he moved a lot, at one time fourteen times in three years. There was no Filipino grandmother who taught him family recipes. Rather his mother couldn't cook; she served Derrick and his brother bland American food, so much so that when he visited with his father and his father’s family, these two boys wouldn't eat Filipino food since both thought that food was too strange.
Not until the sixth grade, when Derrick’s mother settled down in Alhambra , CA did Derrick start to form friendships through which he discovered food, especially the Asian food of the 626. But still, like many biracial children, he wasn't exactly clear as to who he was since he was a part, but not a part, of so many different worlds.
As he’s matured and found others like himself, Derrick has become more comfortable with who his is and how his upbringing is reflected in his cooking. His food thus isn't easy to categorize, since his upbringing straddles many different cultures. His food isn't fusion per se, but it combines his French training, American comfort foods, Asian flavors, and unexpected ingredients in well balanced dishes that are part of well composed meals.
Such a bold approach with aggressive flavors may not appeal to some palates. Plus since his food is about balancing sweet, sour, bitter and other flavors, substitutions and modifications aren't always easy to accommodate since such modifications affect the overall flavor composition of each dish. For example, with a beet dish served at Derrick’s first night of his pop-up in Echo Park, ricotta is used as a neutral element to offset the sweet, spicy and bitter flavors of the beets, beet tops and hoisin sauce.
Over the course of his several pop-up services thus far, Derrick has been open to feedback from his customers, especially since this is what he sought. For Derrick felt if he only served to friends and family that he wouldn't get the critical input that he wanted to further develop and refine his food.
So again starting March 4th, Derrick is relocating from Echo Park to Venice where he just finished negotiating with the Brick House to operate every Monday night for the foreseeable future. His ultimate goal is to have his own permanent restaurant. Though before that occurs, he plans to do additional stages at two prestigious European restaurants this fall In De Wulf in Belgium and Relae in Copenhagen. For Derrick, stages are like “master courses” where he continues his lifelong culinary education by learning from others how he can further develop his own food.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations for the MSG Pop-up’s first night at Brick House Kitchen in Venice and for further information.
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