A Taste of Home: Gani T. Cristobal

Chef Gani T. Cristobal II, a chef at Yamashiro Hollywood discusses the importance of home, cultural understanding, and inspiration throughout his culinary career.

Chef Gani T. Cristobal isn’t just the new kid on the block at Yamashiro Hollywood— his background and perspective are pieces of the puzzle that bring the fusion aspect of the restaurant together. Through his time learning the ropes as a chef-in-training, he has experimented with his own style of cooking and greatly expanded his knowledge of the field. From his time growing up in the Philippines to now, Gani reflects on the journey he has embarked on which has led him to his success today.

“My hometown’s really just a village,” said Gani. “It’s small, quiet and it had some cafeterias you could go and eat. It was a convenient place to live. I miss the tourist spots, specifically the beaches in the Philippines. It’s just great to know that I have a place where I could unwind with the great tropical weather.” This vastly differs from the hustle and bustle of LA, where he is currently located during his time at Yamashiro.

Whenever he comes back home, his plan is to “Get some tattoos, visit some beaches, and explore more Filipino food.” His background inspires his experience as a chef, as he thoroughly enjoys incorporating aspects of different cuisines into his cooking. He says his favorite part of the culinary industry is “Learning about new stuff by trying food. Traveling and working with people.” Yamashiro is the perfect place for Gani, as the restaurant focuses on Japanese fusion cuisine.

Gani is lucky to be surrounded by family and loved ones who offer their unconditional support throughout his career. His culinary inspiration, he says is “Chef Jaehe Lee, he has taught me everything I know and is a great mentor. Just very open and understanding when it comes to concepts of food and is always willing to share experiences and knowledge.” Gani’s mentorship with Chef Jaehe Lee is something that holds a lot of meaning to him as he continues to progress in his time at Yamashiro.

“I was at Royal Hawaiian and I got to see the staff of Buzzfeed dining inside the restaurant and one of my favorite people was there,” Gani said about one of his favorite moments in his culinary career. “It was Shane from Ghost Files. I just think that was like a cool moment because I didn’t think I’d be able to encounter these people so casually.” Gani was starstruck, but also proud of himself in that moment, and how far he had come, from a small community to the limelight.

“I explore other restaurants to try out their food or other restaurants that I’ve been to and try out some of their food that I haven’t ordered,” said Gani. When he is not working as a chef, he fulfills his passion of learning more about different cuisines. The end of his ideal day he says is when he hits the gym to workout or plays some video games to pass the time. Even on his days off, he still actively engages with the culinary world.

When asked how he would want to change the world, he says, “I think people understanding each other better would be a good start.” Gani has worked hard to learn more about different cuisines and is open to new ideas thanks to his mentors and loved ones. In order for fusion concepts to work, like they do at Yamashiro, understanding the cultural significance of the ingredients, preparation, cooking styles, etc. is key, which is something that Gani embraces. Right now, he is also working on starting his own restaurant and a bakery. It will be exciting to see how Gani’s time in the culinary industry and his background will be emulated through his restaurant and bakery.

Writing Credits: Taylor Spill || @taylorspillofficial

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