Filipino-American Chef Vallerie Castillo Archer, the first female executive chef of Hollywood’s Yamashiro, celebrates amazing Filipino dishes as the historic resto introduces the best local cuisines to the world.
“The owners believe in me, they trust me, and they open the doors for me to basically create dishes what I want (to serve), not just typical Japanese food,” said Chef Vallerie during a Zoom interview from Los Angeles recently.
She added: “I want to explain and tell the people what the Filipino dish is all about. I want them to experience that we have a lot of amazing food and the only way we can do that it is to allow people to taste it.”
Among these wonderful Filipino dishes include Dinuguan (cooked the Ilocano way), Lechon Belly, Sisig, Adobo, Pansit, among others.
Built in 1914 with an amazing view of the City of Angels, Hollywood stars and Filipino celebrities frequent Yamashiro ranked as the No. 1 Romantic Restaurant in Los Angeles.
“We’re thrilled to fully reopen and welcome guests back to Yamashiro for indoor and outdoor dining service. We’re open for dinner every week from Monday to Sunday for dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. We have an all-new menu, revamped cocktail program, and plenty of open-air seating that includes encased tent covers and heat lamps,” the popular chef said.
Recently, Chef Vallerie said among the Filipino celebrities spotted at Yamashiro were Piolo Pascual, KC Concepcion, Senator Manny Pacquiao and wife Jinkee, Raymond Gutierrez, entertainment journalist Jun Lalin, Arnel Pineda, Pops Fernandez, Alessandra de Rossi, etc.
Hollywood stars include Paris Hilton, Prince Jackson, Apl.de.Ap, and Cardi B.
Of the stars who went there, Chef Vallerie said she was a bit starstruck with Bruno Mars.
“He’s a wonderful guy,” she said.
Asked what Bruno orders at Yamashiro, the chef said: “He loves garlic fried rice and sushi.”
But Chef Vallerie pointed out that the management always respects the privacy of their guests, especially celebrities.
Chef Vallerie was only three years old when her family migrated to the US. Despite that, she remains a Filipino at heart.
“I am a proud Filipina, it runs through my veins. I don’t need to yell it at the top of my lungs because I know who I am, and I know where I came from,” she said.
Before she became a pastry chef, Vallerie was trained as a culinary chef. “So I know how to handle the speed and the heat of the kitchen.”
She added: “I was trained by the best teachers and renowned chefs. I have had the amazing opportunity to travel exotic places in the world to study my craft.”
Chef Vallerie recalled how she got into pastry.
“I ventured into the pastry world not because I wanted to further my career or thought it was my calling, but because of my beautiful and amazing daughter, who was bullied all throughout her life. She attempted suicide on several occasions,” she revealed.
“The numerous hatred comments, being told to her face to go kill herself because no one likes her, and she was better off. Those endless nights waking up to check if she was alive. Taking her door off to make sure she was safe.
“The most painful thing to watch, to see my child torn to pieces, questioning her purpose in life at age 6. The look in her eyes searching for answers to her question, “why me?”. As parents, we are not given a handbook, there are no 101 classes. One does not simply prepare for this, nor should we have to. We do what we can to protect our kids.
“I remember buying French #macarons for my daughter every day because this would put a smile on her face, a simple smile I rarely saw, the innocent smile of a child that disappeared because someone decided it was ok to bully. Now, everyone knows how expensive macarons are, so I decided to expand my culinary education to master those damn macarons.
“I am one of the lucky ones that was able to study both culinary and pastry. Every chef knows that not everyone can master the art of pastry, in fact I am still learning. I am and will always be a mom first before a chef. I’m not looking for sympathy nor a high five, in the world we live in now, we need to focus on having each other’s back. We are all in this together,” Chef Vallerie said.
Just recently, she celebrated her first year as first Filipina Executive Chef of Yamashiro. “I didn’t realize it’s been a full year, but every day is a celebration because I get to meet exciting people, reconnecting with old friends, but most of all I get to do what I love the most…..EAT. Here’s to many more years.”