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Chef de Cuisine: Chris Carrillo

California born and raised, Chris Carrillo, has always had a passion for food and cooking. Carrillo has been at Republique since pre-opening in 2013 and has worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine earlier this year. Carrillo oversees the kitchen and writes the daily menu, while still keeping an eye on everything going on with the kitchen team.

Carrillo has gained a lot of his inspiration from his travels. He has worked in New York and Italy and traveled to many countries, including the Philippines. Carrillo’s most recent trip was to Japan – a dream for him since a young age – where he explored by trying new foods and eating at different restaurants.

We got the inside scoop from Chef de Cuisine Chris Carrillo on how he got started in the culinary world and where some of his favorite spots are to eat.

How did you start cooking and when did you know you wanted to pursue a career in culinary?
I started cooking professionally in 2010. Ever since I was young I knew I wanted to cook. My mom is a big reason why – she’s the best cook in the family – and she would always cook at family gatherings. My favorite show as a kid was Martha Stewart. When I graduated high school, I moved to New York City and went to the French Culinary Institute and also began working in different kitchens in New York. I then moved to Italy and began culinary school there and had an internship in Venice.

What is your favorite dish to make at home?
I like ceviche. It ties back to my Mexican roots.

Describe one of your most memorable meals.
One of my most memorable meals was recent. I went to the soft opening of a restaurant in San Francisco called Single Thread. The level of detail they take to prepare everything is insane. It probably was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I’ll be going back soon.

What are your favorite spots in LA to eat?
I’m a big fan of Chi Spacca, it’s my go-to place. I also go to Kazu Nori a lot because it’s a great concept. It’s a 24-seat restaurant that does a lot of covers, very efficient, you know what you’re getting and you’re in and out quickly. I go there all the time.

What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
Tomatoes. A good tomato speaks for itself. Any raw preparation. A really good tomato you don’t need to do much. Maybe some cheese, some olive oil, salt, and pepper.

How do you spend your days off?
I definitely sleep in late because you don’t get to do that often. Then I grab lunch with some friends. I try and spend most days off eating out because I think it’s important to know what is going on. I’m also a big fan of going to the movies.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Yes, it’s really bad. It’s Panda Express. If you go right before they close – a friend of mine gave me this secret – they give you a lot more because they throw everything away. The downside is they might be out of what you want and they’re not going to remake.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Seafood.

What do you love most about working at Republique?

There is a common goal for everyone to do everything in the best manner and produce something great. There is a genuine passion and people sacrifice a lot to work here. It really comes across as a place that is trying to do things differently and do things right even though it’s going to be hard and not a walk in the park every day. But just do things the right way.

Favorite thing at Republique?
Oysters. Our oysters are in the water the day before we get them so they are very fresh. We have one person on staff just shucking oysters which is pretty amazing.