Born and raised in the Philippines, Chef Llera Maynard moved to the United States in 2004 to study culinary arts, with the goal of opening his own restaurant, inspired his traditional upbringing and flavors of home. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Chef Llera started his Los Angeles journey alongside Chef Neal Fraser at Grace and BLD restaurants, where he was first introduced French-American cuisine, with a California flair. While working through some of LA’s best kitchens, Chef Llera was awarded the singular opportunity to serve as Sous Chef for the opening of Chef Ori Menashe’s critically acclaimed Bestia. He remained on the team for four years, continuously enhancing his ability in Italian cuisine, under mentorship from Chef Menashe. Wanting to showcase his creativity and innovativeness, Chef Llera continued to develop his cooking techniques and training across a wide array of cuisines. He is excited to join The h.wood group and bring his culinary vision, focusing on sourcing the best ingredients, and presenting inspired cuisine.
1. When did you decide to become a chef and who inspired you in the process?
Honestly, when I went to CIA in NY, I simply wanted to become a restaurateur. I then realized that I had spent a lot of money for my tuition fees, so I decided to pursue this as a career. Eventually, I felt that I love and enjoy cooking. It was my family who inspired me in the process.
2. What are some cooking tips that you can share with us that you learned during your time at Bestia under Chef Ori Menashe?
Use the best quality ingredients of the day; source the best meat and fish; select the freshest produce from farmers market; create simple dishes and the let the food speaks for itself. Think that you are always cooking for your family. When creating new dishes, it needs to be “Great”. If it’s only “Good”, then it is not good enough.
3. Can you walk us through one of your specialty dishes?
The Squid Ink Campanelle. First, I sweat the n’duja with garlic and shallots, add the mussels and clams meat, then deglazed them with white wine. Once the wine is reduced, I add the mussel and clam stock. Let it reduce. Cook the squid ink campanelle in boiling water, take them out then add to n’duya sauce. Reduce until the sauce is incorporated in the pasta. Add pea tendrils and finish with fennel pollen.
4. What made you decide to join the h.wood group family, and what are you planning to bring to their menus?
h.wood group is rapidly expanding in the culinary scene. I believe that with my 14 years of work experience side by side with some of the known chefs in Los Angeles, I can make a big difference by improving the quality of the food in their restaurants. I want us to be known not only in delivering nightlife, but our restaurants to be a culinary destination as well. One of my principles in cooking is to bring childhood memories that challenges me in creating my dishes.
5. What are some of your favorite Filipino dishes?
Filipino Barbeque, Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew), Adobo and Sinigang (Tamarind Soup), Tocino. Usually simple food. I’m just a simple guy, you know.
Tags: Bestia, BLD, Chef Llera Maynard, Chef Ori Menashe, Grace, LA Guestlist, Los Angeles, Philippines, Squid Ink Campanelle, The h.wood Group
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