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Meet the Chef: Rodelio Aglibot

Our Chef Council is responsible for all the delicious recipes you see on the menu each week. We are happy to introduce Chef Rodelio Aglibot as one of our contributing chefs!

Born in the Philippines and raised in Hawaii, Rodelio Aglibot had his first inkling that his professional calling in life would be cooking at a very early age, crediting his parents as his early culinary mentors. After watching his father cook at home as a child, Aglibot tried his own hand at the technique in a tree house with a hibachi grill and a can of Spam. Luckily, he didn’t burn his backyard to the ground, but it did set him off on a culinary path that he is following today — combining a lively and experimental energy with unique ingredients and a touch of surprise.

Aglibot started his culinary eduction at the City College’s Hotel and Restaurant Program in San Francisco. His executive chef instructor encouraged him to apply for the prestigious Chef’s Apprenticeship Program at the Five-Star Greenbrier Resort. Aglibot’s acceptance into the program at Greenbrier was the most important and influential experience of his career and where he was introduced to authentic cooking and classical techniques. “I was surrounded by some of the most talented and career-driven chefs I’d ever met and refer to my practice at Greenbrier as culinary boot camp,” he says, “Doing 1500 covers a night and cooking decadent 12-course meals at Greenbrier was an education of a lifetime.”

Aglibot was involved in five restaurant openings over a span of three years in San Francisco, most notably the E & O Trading Company, a Pan-Asian restaurant under the direction of chefs Joyce Goldstein and Gary Woo. As the opening sous chef, he furthered his education in Asian cuisine and began to hone his own culinary identity. He then became the opening executive chef and consultant of ZaZen, a beachy Asian Bistro in Venice, California and was also a founder in a specialty seafood company in San Francisco called Ahi Brothers, distributing tuna to the finest dining destinations in the Bay Area such as Aqua San Francisco, Gary Danko and The French Laundry.

His ascent into celebrity chefdom began when he became the opening executive chef of the celebrity studded juggernaut Koi Restaurant, in Los Angeles, where he earned his stars for creating an innovative menu of Asian dishes, blending bright flavors with an array of textures and temperatures. After two years at Koi, Rodelio was presented with an opportunity to develop his own concept leading to the creation of the restaurant Yi Cuisine, which went on to be named one of the “Best New Asian Restaurants” by Food & Wine magazine. As memorable as the experience at learning business and restaurant management was, Aglibot somehow knew there were other things for him to learn and he moved on, continuing his education through cooking and travel.

Aglibot was sought after as a chef with expertise in New Asian cuisine, concept creation and restaurant openings. Celebrity guest chef appearances began filling his calendar with locations and events as varied as the Westin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Shangri-La Hotel chain’s two properties in Hong Kong and Manila, the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival held in Kuala Lumpur and at a chef event in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In the fall of 2006, Aglibot was brought on to consult and help conceptualize Sunda New Asian restaurant in Chicago. Sunda was launched in the spring of 2009 and the accolades are still coming. Aglibot oversaw the culinary program at Sunda as Founding Chef until the spring of 2011.

In the Spring of 2010, Aglibot and BLT Restaurant Group partnered to conceptualize an Asian Gastropub in New York. Aglibot’s experience and scalability made him the most dynamic choice to lead BLT as its Corporate Executive Chef. After directing 15 restaurants and opening 6, Aglibot decided to return to Chicago, where he is currently based.

Today, Rodelio’s main focus as VP of Culinary Operations for Intrestco, LLC, a lifestyle hospitality company that creates and operates restaurant concepts such as E+O Food and Drink, located just outside downtown Chicago.

He is a 3-time James Beard Foundation Dinner Participant with his latest dinner in the fall of 2009. He believes in civic duty, his proudest being a non-profit charity he helped found in 2011 named In Chef’s Hands. His organization connects individuals with special needs who have a passion for food and cooking with established chefs in the Chicago area.

Known the world over by media outlets as “The Food Buddha,” because of his dedication to his heritage and his approach to menu development, Aglibot has been featured on many national television programs, from the CBS Morning Show to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Aglibot continues his passion for knowledge and enlightenment. His unpretentious food style, knowledge of ingredients and exciting food traditions are trademarks to his personality. He lives his life by his own philosophy:

“A tragedy in life is not to find oneself and one’s passion…an even greater tragedy is to know one’s passion and deny oneself of its treasures.”

See Chef Rodelio’s dishes on the menu here!

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