Chef Ray Serrano

Chef Ray Serrano

Profile & Story

How’d you come up with the name for your catering company, “The Intimate Chef”?
As a private chef, I started off by catering a few parties for some friends. They'd invite me over to cook for their small, tight groups (10-12 people at most). They'd always describe their gatherings as intimate, which was very important to the conversations and atmosphere they wanted to cultivate. So I thought that word was a perfect description to what I aim to do with my food.

Favorite comfort food?
Mexican food. I love beans, burritos and taco trucks. When I go to work, I just look for the nearest taco truck. I don't pack lunch. With just a few dollars, I can get a huge plate of food with tremendous value. They often use very simple and cheap ingredients, but everything is made with so much love and care that it still comes out amazing.

Who’s your role model?
That dude, Andrew Zimmerman. He’s my hero because he’s willing to try new things in a time when a lot of people aren’t so open-minded. He’s just your typical American guy, but he doesn't let that stop his sense of adventure. He’s my idol.

who inspired you to become a chef?
My parents. They loved to cook and always competed with each other in the kitchen. My mom would cook traditional Filipino dishes, but I was always intrigued in the experimental side. I wanted to figure out what would happen if you changed up certain elements and ingredients in a dish. I started asking my parents to teach me how to cook. And by the time I was 8, I could make perfect omelets and scrambled eggs. And I was really proud about that. So the inspiration to cook really came from my parents.

When did you realize cooking was your passion?
I was a teenager in high school when I really started to get into cooking. There were a couple of girls that I was seeing. I wanted to impress them with my cooking skills. I'd give them whatever I could whip up in their kitchen and they'd light up and say, "Oh wow, this is good!" And I began to realize the impact my food could have on people. So ever since then, whenever people enjoy my food and share positive feedback, it makes me feel really great about what I do as a chef.

What’s your style as a chef?
Asian fusion. It was a style that came naturally to me, since most of the ingredients I have at home are Asian ones. I feel that you could to go any restaurant and get a good taste of traditional Asian cuisine. Good Asian fusion is really hard to come by. So I experiment a lot on the side. I'm always striving to create dishes with unique and bold flavors. So Asian fusion, in terms of possibilities, gives me that opportunity to be really creative with cooking.

Biggest influence?
My dad. When I was little kid, he'd always buy the weirdest stuff. And when my mom was cooking and looking away, he'd throw something weird in like snails or deer liver. People don't normally consider ingredients like these as "good to eat", but he'd make something really delicious out of it. Take bone marrow, for example. Back then, restaurants would throw that stuff away by the bucket and now it's this booming luxury ingredient.

What would your last meal?
Foie grais. Foie gras and toro. Toro is the belly of the fatty bluefin tuna. I'd cut it and serve it as sashimi. But it has to be the belly though, not the whole thing.