We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Torrijos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, how do you think about risk?
As a kid, I was definitely risk-averse: scared of the dark, the deep-end, and upside down rollercoasters. I harped on what could go wrong, rather than anticipating positive outcomes. In my early twenties, I realized that my fear of risk kept success and joy at bay. I began taking more calculated risks and some less calculated ones, too. Each risky decision I have made has enriched my life or career in one way or another. That’s not to say that every risk taken has played out exactly how I envisioned it. Yet, I have gotten to know myself better with each decision. Taking risks is a fast-pass to authenticity. When a person chooses to take a risk, despite the opinions of others and against expectation, they’re standing in their own truth. I enjoy being around and working with people who aren’t afraid to take risks, because they aren’t afraid to be themselves. In my career, risk-taking is now a mandate. It has taught me that I am always more capable than I think I am.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being a chef is not an easy profession. In fact, it can sometimes feel like you sold life away for a pair of crocs and a smelly apron. However, there is one thing that keeps me committed: food brings people together. I try to stay tethered to the connectivity of food in whatever job or project I am invested in. After eight years, I’ve worked in almost every type of restaurant imaginable: quick service, boba shop, michelin-starred, casual, seafood, French, independent, and big business. Thus far, some of my proudest moments were starting mishmash, landing a job as a research and development chef, and being on a team that earned two Michelin stars. Due to the pandemic, I’ve had to cancel any upcoming pop-ups or private events. However, it has prompted me to reflect on what kind of impact I want to have on the restaurant industry and our community. With mishmash, there has always been a charitable aspect to the pop-ups. Now, I’m looking forward to making an even more concerted effort to address issues, like food inequity, in the greater LA area.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d probably start them off with a beautiful early-morning hike in the Angeles National Forest. LA is known for its beaches, but it also has incredible mountains that provide a nice break from the city. Since I am a proud SGV-native, I’d take them over to the San Gabriel Valley for incredible food. We would go to Sea Harbour Seafood for the best dim sum, King Taco for sopes, Tacos La Bufadora for fish tacos, Bistro Na’s for some swanky Chinese, and Golden Deli for the best Vietnamese food. We’d probably be comatose after all of this food; so, I’d take them to Lacy Park to relax and enjoy the beautiful and sunny area. After resting up, we’d head over to Melody in Silver Lake for dinner and the most unique collection of wine. Melody holds a special place in my heart because I held my first few pop-ups there. It’s a pretty little bungalow with an awesome rotation of pop-up chefs. We always end up spending our entire evenings there. Maybe we’d throw in a comedy show, concert, or go to DGM in K-Town afterwards. That would be my ideal day in LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am grateful to so many people for helping me get mishmash off the ground. For quite a long time, I relied on friends and family to be my wait staff, dishwashers, photographers, prep cooks, and clean up crew. I remember, the night before a sold-out pop-up, my mom stayed up all night cutting banana leaves while I braised 50 pounds of beef cheeks. She did not sleep. My partner, my dad, and my siblings have also gone above and beyond to support mishmash. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve had in my career and do not take that for granted.
WIP Zine (Jayde Robbins)