Andre Boyer: “Practice makes perfect”

For all the young chefs/restauranteurs that want to be successful. Cook, Cook, Cook, and cook some more. Practice makes perfect. Have your friends over and don’t be afraid to try new things, get techniques from other chefs you admire. And take classes. Cooking and creating is always changing with the times, so as long as […]

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For all the young chefs/restauranteurs that want to be successful. Cook, Cook, Cook, and cook some more. Practice makes perfect. Have your friends over and don’t be afraid to try new things, get techniques from other chefs you admire. And take classes. Cooking and creating is always changing with the times, so as long as you are willing to learn, you will develop into someone you always wanted to be.

As part of our series about the lessons from Inspirational Black Chefs & Restaurateurs I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Andre Boyer.

Andre Boyer is a chef and host of “Make this Tonight” on Tastemade. Which can be seen on the Tastemade app as well as Sling. With over 10 plus years in hospitality, Andre understands what it takes to bring a good meal to a hungry crowd as well as curating the perfect cocktail. With an extremely diverse background, Andre was born and raised in Japan and developed a love for Asian cuisine at an early age. His mother is also Filipino, which heavily influenced his palette and style of cooking as he grew older.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restauranteur or chef?

When I was young, I would go to visit my mother’s friends and family (all were Filipino) they would share what they had to eat. Even if it was just rice and sinigang (Filipino stew filled with meat and vegetables) it would give me life. I enjoyed all the smiles around the dinner table and loved how appreciated I was for finishing my plate. I started cooking around 7 years old, back in the day you could leave your kids alone in the house without you worrying about it burning down. So, I had friends over after school and would make a lot of the meals my mother taught me when we were making dinner together. From then on, it came naturally, my dad who was in the marines would try and alternate cooking days for my sister and I, but I knew there was something in me that could make a meal out of nothing.

Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?

I mainly focused on Filipino cuisine. Still to this day, not a lot of people understand what that is or even taste like. My mother coming from a small area of the Philippines taught me the basics, which now the food itself is more mainstream in America. I was taught how to make Lumpia, which is a Filipino style egg roll with minced meat, garlic, and vegetables (usually mirepoix). I also learned how to make Adobo. Which usually consists of Pork, but to be healthier we made it out of Chicken Thighs and Legs. It’s extremely delicious, a little spicy because of the garlic and peppercorn, but cooled down by the soy sauce. It’s a simple yet complex dish.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” Or “Be smart or Be strong” — that one was from my military father. He was a little tough growing up, but looking back now, I knew I needed the discipline. Like most military kids, I was a knucklehead and liked to cause trouble all the time. But that all calmed down after my passions started to shine a little bit brighter. For me to achieve any type of success in life, I knew I had to stop making a joke out of everything and put a little hard work in if I wanted to get somewhere.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?

One of the hardest times I think I ever had was when I was in between restaurant jobs and a place to live. I recall living in my car a few months at a time. I had about maybe 100 dollars to last me a week for food gas etc. I was too embarrassed to ask some friends to sleep on their couch. At that time I just remember being sick and tired of being sick and tired and went in to a small diner and just asked for an application. A few days later I was working as a busser/dishwasher and moved my way around the restaurant the waiters started giving me tips for cleating their sections so fast. I turned out okay after that.

In your experience, what is the key to creating a dish that customers are crazy about?

I think now, more customers want a meal that brings them an experience. That can transport them to a place they haven’t been before, or a place that they can revisit. But I find most customers are just happy with a meal that reminds them of home.

Personally, what is the ‘perfect meal for you’?

I’m easy…the perfect meal has my favorite flavor profiles, fat, sweet, salt, and sour. So sometimes it could be Jitlada (best Thai in LA to me) or a nice hot bowl of Pho/Ramen.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? What impact do you think this will have?

I’m currently working on a brand deal with Grubhub. It’s a great experience since Covid has shut down shooting more episodes with Tastemade. But thanks to them I was brought on to give an audience a new way to experience food delivery with their friends. Now that we are quarantining more, I hope this brings more awareness to the small business that relied on us.

What advice would you give to other chefs or restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout?

To avoid Burnout…Drink a Margarita?! Lol Jk. But seriously they are delicious. Whenever I’m having a hard day, I just take a hot shower, close my eyes and you literally have to tell yourself “You’re only at 40%” which I’ve told myself a lot, I believe we as humans when our brains tell us we are “done” We are only really 40% percent done, so we have a lot left in the tank. (Guess it’s all the military discipline in me) but it works, You go back in there and handle your business.

Do you have any advice for “up and coming” young chefs who are in need of guidance to become successful in the culinary world?

For all the young chefs/restauranteurs that want to be successful. Cook, Cook, Cook, and cook some more. Practice makes perfect. Have your friends over and don’t be afraid to try new things, get techniques from other chefs you admire. And take classes. Cooking and creating is always changing with the times, so as long as you are willing to learn, you will develop into someone you always wanted to be.

COVID-19 has been a trying time for all of us. How are you growing your business during COVID-19? What advice do you have for any chefs who are trying to stay relevant during this time?

For chefs that are trying to stay relevant, even if money is kind of hard to come by…I’m seeing a lot of small shops that my industry brothers and sisters are doing by opening a small hot cart, with a tent and just cooking for the masses. Whether it be in front of their shop or on the side of the road, you can’t stop letting this stop you from achieving what you want to do. If you have extra groceries, start creating produce baskets for consumers to cook at home.

Thank you for all that. Now we are ready for the main question of the interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started as a Restauranteur or Chef” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Learn every side of the house. — Last year I wanted to get a healthy fast food truck off the ground. Although I’m still working on it, I still have to learn how to market and grow that brand. I have to learn the business side of how consumers think and a newer way for consumers to eat on the go.
  2. Save your money — There have been times where I made more than I was used to. I would go out a little too often to enjoy a specific lifestyle. I eventually had to turn that down and settle some debts.
  3. Collaboration is key — I recall working for this dinner party I was getting paid to host and I wanted these high-priced spirits for the drink menu, but the bartender I hired suggested an alternative. I knew it didn’t work. It might of tasted fine to the patron but to me I hated cutting corners. And I really wanted to impress the guests. Overall it was a big hit, everyone was happy and that’s all that matters.
  4. Stand up for yourself — As a person that likes to people please. I came into a problem of not having enough food for the night. One of my really good friends convinced me to work for this private event. They kept changing the head count, and me trying to be polite, I accepted the numbers as they grew. Turns out 20 turned into 30+. I was not only embarrassed but I should’ve said no, this is the amount you paid me for and I’m not doing it.
  5. Know your value — I understand there is a lot of people that think they can do what you can do. But they are not only paying you for your skill level but your knowledge and how much time it takes you to do it. I get a lot of requests from people I meet and they try to low ball what I’m worth. I try not to be rude because I wasn’t brought up that way. But I never understood why people try to take advantage of someone’s skill because they think it’s easy to just “whip up”.

What’s the one dish people have to try if they visit your establishment?

I’d say my reverse seared steak. With a potato puree and seared scallops. It’s extremely decadent but so worth the calories.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d LOVE to have a food truck that feeds the homeless for free. It would be a donated based company. Homelessness in Los Angeles is growing at an alarming rate, and I would literally call the truck FREE FOOD. I would park it on skid row and go to other areas around Los Angeles and have eco friendly bags filled with meals, one hot and one cold, like a sandwich or something. From someone that has had no home, no place to go in my life I think it’s very important to know that this needs immediate attention.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Instagram — @TheAndreBoyer @CookWMeAndreB

Twitter — @TheAndreBoyer

Thank you so much for these insights. This was very inspirational!

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