By Chester Simpson
Chef Kelvin Flores
4053 Campbell Avenue
Villages of Shirlington
When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I came to the states when I was 17 and ever since I have been in kitchens. My first Sous Chef job was at The Oval Room from 2004 to 2006 then moved to BLT Steak from 2006 to 2009 as a Executive Sous Chef. Worked at Circa in Clarendon for 3 years as Chef de Cuisine, then I felt that I needed a bigger challenge in my career and wanted to run my own kitchen, so I worked for Hawk N Dove in DC for 2 years which was not my best experience, then I found Alexandria Restaurant Partners last September and that totally changed my life for good.
Who has been the biggest inspiration for your career?
Chef Victor Albisu. He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris, was executive chef of BLT Steaks in D.C. Has cooked for President and Mrs. Obama and was named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Now at Del Campo, his own upscale South American Grill in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and Taco Bamba, Albisu and his mom, Rosa Susunski owns Taco Bamba, a takeout taqueria in Falls Church, Virginia, that reflects his Cuban and Peruvian roots. He was my mentor and he helped me a lot and “Thanks to him, I’m here.”
What dish on the menu are you most curious to see how it’s received?
Watermelon and Halloumi, it is different because all of the combination of flavors. Also, our Empanadas. Every restaurant has Empanadas but ours are a little different, we have lamb, beef, plantains, raisins, capers, and hardboiled egg.
What do you do to ensure the quality of the food going out to customers?
Be on the line all the time and make sure all my sous chefs learn to love and taste every dish that goes out to the customers.
If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it, be?
Chef Thomas Keller, who holds many tittles as chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation. He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants. He currently holds 7 Michelin stars total: 3 at Per Se, 3 at The French Laundry, and 1 at Bouchon.
Keller taught film star Adam Sandler to cook the world’s greatest sandwich, a BLT, with a fried egg, while working on the film, “Spanglish.”
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Eating 2 Apple Empanadas with ice cream before going home.
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