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.
Please share an off-menu family recipe (or description) or a personal intergenerational food story
Ayam Pelalah was one of the first dishes I learned in Jakarta upon arrival. I was drawn to it immediately as I grew up eating Western chicken salad in Wisconsin. Obviously, over time my palate became drawn to spicier foods, so the Ayam Pelalah is hot, spicy, sweet, savory and sour. I use an emping cracker to add a delicate touch with sweet and bitter notes.
I think the Asian food movement is booming right now because people are really showcasing great authentic Asian recipes, rather than fusion. All over, chefs are incorporating ingredients found in their local farmers markets and working them into these traditional dishes to highlight the culture but with a little twist of their own and it’s great! We do the same at KASIH by giving our diners a glimpse into the Indonesian dining culture, but we use fresh California grown ingredients to make it our own.
Catch Chef Zachary Hamal and the Kasih team at our Los Angeles #LUCKYRICE18 “Breaking Bao Intergenerational Feast” on July 26th.