As Chef de Cuisine at KASIH, L.A.’s new contemporary Indonesian restaurant, Zachary Hamel brings an L.A. style of cooking to authentic Indonesian cuisine in collaboration with world-renowned Indonesian chef Vindex Tengker.
At the age of nine, Madison, Wisconsin native Hamel’s family relocated to Thailand, where his parents were international teachers. Hamel spent four years of his childhood in the Southeast Asian country, during which time he developed an affinity for the region’s bold, exotic flavors that continue to influence his culinary style today.
Upon moving back to Madison as a teen, Hamel quickly worked his way from prep cook before landing a job at acclaimed restaurant L’Etoile where he met his mentor, James Beard Award-winning Chef Tory Miller. With a passion for cooking and learning various culinary techniques, but a love for Thai flavors, Hamel traveled back to Bangkok, Thailand to attend Le Cordon Bleu while simultaneously staging at Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm.
Following his graduation from Le Cordon Bleu, Hamel moved to New York City to cook at Momofuku’s Má Pêche before traveling around the world working in some of the most notable kitchens in the industry, including Merivale Hospitality’s iconic restaurant, Ms. G’s in Sydney, Australia. Eventually, Hamel settled down in Los Angeles as sous chef at Hollywood hotspot E.P. & L.P.
To prepare for the opening of KASIH, Hamel spent months in Jakarta, Bandung and Bali, Indonesia, completing extensive training with Chef Tengker to refine his techniques and approach to authentic Indonesian preparation, and to gain a deeper understanding of the many unique cultures that influence Indonesian cuisine, which he hopes to share with Angelenos and all who dine at KASIH.
What tasting are you serving? Why/how do you think this will pave the next wave of food trends?
I will be serving the Beef Rendang topped with asian slaw. Indonesian food is still a new cuisine to most foodies. I feel Beef Rendang is a staple to Indonesian cuisine and will naturally be mentioned by many who have had Indonesian cuisine. Think back to when Thai food first came to America, Pad Thai had to be on the menu at every Thai restaurant otherwise customers probably wouldn't dine there. Beef Rendang is as important and traditional to the Indonesian community as Pad Thai to Thai.
What does the future of Asian food look like?
I feel the next food wave of Asian food will involve Modern Asian cuisines not yet seen by many. Sri Lankan, Burmese, Cambodian, and Indonesian are a few of those amazing cuisines on the cusp of exploding into mainstream dining.
What does celebrating 10 lucky years of LUCKYRICE mean to you?
Celebrating ten years of LUCKYRICE means a lot to me. It's amazing to be able to contribute my Asian culture and cooking amongst such talented Asian chefs in LA. People always get a good laugh seeing a white guy cook Asian, but that's a story I enjoy telling.
Taste the future with Chef Zachary Hamel at our 10th year celebration LUCKYRICE Night Market of the Future on May 30h, 2019.