On The Line: Tony Lu Of The Slummin' Gourmet - Part Two
Photo by Josue Rivas
This week's chef/husband/father looks back on his employment that inspired The Slummin' Gourmet. We also learn about the (soon-to-be) newest addition to the TSG family. Read our interview with Tony Lu of The Slummin' Gourmet, Part One. And now, on to Part Two . . .
What did you do prior to running the luxe lonchera, and what prompted the decision to own one? After years of running a kitchen in a club for the elite and privileged, and cooking the food that members wanted to eat, I found myself wanting to do more. I wanted to cook on my own terms, and have people experience my style of cooking without having to break the bank. Our prices may be slightly higher than what people are accustomed to for a street side vendor, but the quality of ingredients and service you will find definitely sets us apart. We function as a high end mobile kitchen/restaurant. An oxymoron for a lonchera? Perhaps. But we are having a blast. Where did you grow up? Born in Taiwan, raised in Venezuela. Currently living in Walnut/Diamond Bar.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing? Playing and hanging out with my kids, or exploring the local dining scene with the missus.
Last song playing on your radio: 80's Mega Mix; I think it was Depeche Mode.
Hardest lesson you've learned: Every day is a different adventure. You really have to welcome those last minute changes, think quick and problem solve. The most bizarre things will happen, things that you wouldn't believe. Things only a fellow trucker would hear, nod and completely understand.
What's your favorite childhood memory? I remember camping with family and friends on the tropical islands off the coast of Venezuela. We would use ingredients readily available to us from the land and sea to make dinner as a team. Fresh conch and crab, coconut juice, baby plantains right off the trees . . .it was magical.
Greatest challenge about running a food truck? Storage capacity is limited. We are prepping and replenishing ingredients constantly, sometimes twice or more a day. . . which is actually a good thing. Everything is fresh!
Where's the strangest place you've ever parked? Have you ever hit a street lamp? We have scraped a couple of street signs and tree branches. The most unusual place we've parked for service was right smack on the beach for a private catered party.
What were you up to five years ago? I was running a kitchen for a private country club as the Executive Chef, and also learning how to change diapers and make baby food for the first time.
Last movie watched; how was it? Un Cuento Chino, an Argentinean film with subtitles. It was different and refreshing, definitely not your summer blockbuster hit. As with all recent films after having kids, we watched it at home.
Last thing you searched online: Infant car seat for our daughter. Coming soon, Summer 2013.
Do you have any skills that are non-food related? Prior to cooking, I worked as a financial analyst for the nation's largest telecom company. I can write macros and queries like you wouldn't believe.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business? Professional golfer? Wishful thinking. I used to play in a previous life, before cooking and becoming a husband and a father. It's always rewarding to be able to turn one's interest, passion and motivation into a career. I am very fortunate to have found my calling.
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