The Social Mission behind Daniel Chavez's Passion


The Peruvian chef has a much bigger plan than getting social media likes and full seatings in his restaurants


by

The Social Mission behind Daniel Chavez's Passion
Dining April 3rd, 2018

His food – authentic, vibrant and distinct – is loved by diners and revered by industry insiders. He rubs shoulders with some of the top chefs in the world – including Gaston Acurio, the undisputed leader of Peru’s culinary scene. Daniel Chavez is every bit a mover and shaker in the local F&B scene. But when it comes to wielding his influence, the 38 year-old has a much bigger plan than just getting people to like his social media posts and visit his restaurants.

“In Peru, most of the chefs – if not all – have a social mission. There is a much bigger agenda than to win awards and be popular. We help each other as far as we can because we are a very poor country – rather than fight and compete with one another we support and help each other get better,” says Chavez.

“There is a much bigger agenda than to win awards and be popular.”

– Daniel Chavez, chef-owner of OLA Cocina del Mar and TONO Cevichera

At the World Gourmet Summit last year, the chef-owner of OLA Cocina del Mar and TONO Cevichera brought four Peruvian culinary students to Singapore. In the 10 days that they were here, Chavez worked with the students from Fundacion Pachacutec – founded by Gaston Acurio with the objective of elevating the lives of those from poor families – to design and execute a special menu for the world-class event.

This March 2018, Chavez was visited by Raúl Diez Canseco, the former vice president of Peru, to discuss future opportunities of hosting more Peruvian culinary students in Singapore. Chavez is an influencer in the true sense of the word – he creates opportunities that help improve lives.

Chef Daniel Chavez

Chavez is an influencer in the true sense of the word. Photo by Wong Weiliang

“This is not just for people within the trade, but for society in general. We want to equip the poor with skills to enter the F&B industry so that they can have a proper job and a better life,” shares Chavez. “Our country’s culinary scene is now in the international spotlight not because of our fine dining scene serving haute cuisine, but because of our country’s native cuisine. You can say that the whole Peruvian food movement is one that starts with the people – and the people are in the heart of it.”

 Yet Chavez always had a bleeding heart for the community. As a child, his father made it a point to bring him to the rough neighbourhoods – just so he could see different facets of society.

“Me and my brother always understood that we are part of a society and we need to bring it back to balance.”

“While my classmates were eating at Burger King, which was considered glamorous at that point, I would be with my father eating at very basic warikes – tiny hole-in-the-wall places serving rustic food. But it was perhaps then that I developed a love for such flavours.” Chavez also fondly remembers his parents bringing him and his brother to orphanages to distribute gifts during Christmas. “Such experiences mark you. Me and my brother always understood that we are part of a society and we need to bring it back to balance.

At TONO Cevichera, Chavez cooks food that reminds him of the rustic flavours of Peruvian cuisine. Photo by John Heng

While his heart bleeds for Peru, Chavez has equally big love for the people that surround him in Singapore too. The chef-owner doesn’t just play the role of “boss” – but also that of a mentor. “There is an increasing rate of graduates leaving this career in the first years after finishing the culinary arts program. They have expectations of what this career is all about, but things aren’t necessarily what you see on TV and on social media. Our team in Ola is quite young and we teach them to have patience in their job.”

Chavez also makes it a point to bond and listen to his team. “It is important to be close to your staff and understand their beliefs and dreams – and give them the guidance to help realise these dreams.”

Stay Connected

Sign up for luxury deals, news, and insider tips delivered to your inbox.

By signing up, you agree to periodic email marketing from Keyyes to the email address you provided. Terms of use and Privacy policy.