Fil-Am chef in LA wins big at the ‘Oscars of food’
 
 
 
 
 
 

Filipino chef in LA wins big at the ‘Oscars of food’

Chef Lord Maynard Llera bags the James Beard Award for Best Chef: California
/ 12:27 AM June 15, 2024

Filipino Chef in LA wins big at the ‘Oscars of food’

Photo from Eater_la/Instagram

Filipino American Chef Lord Maynard Llera came prepared with his ‘kodigo’ (cheatsheet) for his speech at the James Beard Awards night in Chicago this week.

Chef Llera, the culinary master behind Kuya Lord at 5003 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, clinched a prestigious accolade — the James Beard Award for Best Chef: California. Shortlisted as a semi-finalist last January along with other Fil-Am chefs, he came out on top.

Adding a delightful pinch of Filipino flavor to Hollywood’s culinary landscape, this award, known as the “Oscars of food,” is a claim to fame for the Filipino restaurant.

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Taking to Instagram to share his “kodigo” (cheatsheet) for his speech on the awards night, expressing his gratitude, he wrote, “I would like to thank the @beardfoundation for recognizing my work and bestowing this honor upon me. I am truly honored & humbled to stand before all of you tonight to accept this prestigious award…”

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Kuya Lord’s journey – from a humble start as a series of pop-ups during the pandemic to transforming into a brick-and-mortar gem in Southern California – is nothing short of inspiring. His Filipino fast-casual restaurant in Los Angeles’ Melrose Hill neighborhood has quickly become a go-to-spot for elevated and modern Filipino dishes. 

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The core of Kuya Lord

One of LA Times’ “Best Restaurants”, Kuya Lord’s charm lies in its “Filipino food done my way,” as Llera puts it on their website. He offers concoctions that can be traced back to his roots in Lucena City, Quezon Province, Philippines. 

Their menu features standout dishes like “lucenachon” (slow-roasted pork belly), Caledonia blue prawns in garlicky crab paste and “mami” (egg noodle soup) — a reflection of Llera’s creativity and rich cultural heritage.

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This Fil-Am chef’s mission is ambitious yet heartfelt – to integrate Filipino food into the American mainstream culinary scene. 

His approach of introducing Filipino flavors to Los Angeles is working, with about 80 percent of Kuya Lord’s patrons being non-Filipinos.

You may also like: Erwan Heusaff, Filipino chefs nominated for ‘Oscars of the culinary world’

Chef Llera’s culinary odyssey

Migrating to the US at 24, Llera initially settled in New York City but soon found his rhythm in the laid-back vibes of the West Coast. This Fil-Am chef realized his dream of opening a Filipino restaurant in 2020 until the pandemic pivoted his plans. 

To manage the setback, he turned his garage into a pop-up kitchen, leveraging social media to attract crowds from Orange County and Long Beach.

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Officially opening in June 2022, backed by a major investor, Kuya Lord was born – a cozy spot that seats 28 people.

With the restaurant’s success and his James Beard Award, Llera is now looking to expand with a more upscale Filipino dining experience in Los Angeles.

Keep an eye out LA – Filipino cuisine is here to stay, ready to take tastebuds on a culinary journey to the Philippines.

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TAGS: achievement awards, California, Filipino American chefs, Trending
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