If you’ve ever experienced the culinary magic behind the Orange Chicken w/ Brown Rice Chow Mein Noodles or the Chicken Breakfast Enchiladas on our SoCal menu, then it’s quite likely you’re a member of the ever-growing California Creationz fan club. This Orange County based chef trio brings diverse flavors and innovative meals to the Territory menu including Asian fusion and traditional Mexican dishes.
The extra special sauce about this crew? They also play an integral part on the operational side of your orders each week. Cali Creationz is home to our Pick & Pack facility where all the meals you order from the various chefs in our network come to their space, where it’s then packaged by hand just for you. With both a culinary and logistics skillset, the Cali Creationz crew is a powerhouse team that we’re beyond lucky to partner with in the intentional eating movement.
We got the chance to sit down with the head chefs at California Creationz – Ti, Claudio, and Julio – to learn a bit more about their culinary journeys and lives outside the kitchen. In addition to managing and growing their business, they also find time to be deeply rooted and active in their communities, prioritize a sweat on the hiking trail, soccer field, or Jiu Jitsu mat, and are just generally awesome humans. We loved having the chance to chat with them and left feeling inspired by each of their journeys. Excited to share the conversation with you.
WHERE ARE YOU GUYS FROM?
We’re all from Santa Ana, Orange County.
SO, HOW DID YOU ALL MEET? HOW DID CALI CREATIONZ COME TO BE?
We all met at a previous job working in the same kitchen and became great friends over the years. We were inspired by how similar many of our experiences were, but yet we each come from different backgrounds. The idea for Cali Creationz came from the hope to share our ethnic diversity and creativity through food.
I CAN ATTEST TO YOUR CULINARY CREATIVITY – IT SHINES THROUGH OUR MENU. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY INSPIRES YOUR FOOD THE MOST?
We believe our creativity and diversity comes from our backgrounds. Claudio’s family is from Veracruz, Mexico where there is a lot of mystical charm to the region. It’s regarded as the spiritual healing capital of Mexico. Julio’s family is from Guanajuato where they’re known for their vibrant colors and busy streets. Ti’s family is very traditional and from Vietnam. The family’s first business was a rice farm, from which they eventually sold enough to the US armed forces and made enough money to emigrate his family to the states.
Our food is a fusion of these unique backgrounds and flavor profiles.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN SOCAL?
Ti : I love that we’re an hour away from anything we want to do. It is the mecca of Brazilian Jiu jitsu. I can also go to the beach, go hiking, snowboarding, head out to the desert, or go mountain climbing depending on my mood. And the food! It’s so great, I can always find any kind of ethnic food I want.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR MOMENT YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO BE A CHEF?
Julio: At the age of twelve when my father first opened up his first restaurant, I developed a passion for cooking after spending much of my time with him in the kitchen. I gained the confidence, skill, and experience at an early age which helped me become the chef I am today.
Claudio: I always enjoyed working in the kitchen with my mom. I came from a family of engineers, I even went to school to become one myself. However, my passion was cooking, and while it was really hard to move in a different direction after college, my family supported my decision.
Ti: I realized around 11 years old I was going to be doing something with food. My mother had been a restaurateur for 25 years before she retired. I knew I was going to follow in her footsteps.
NOW FOR A FEW RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS … IT’S SO AWESOME YOU KNEW FROM SUCH AN EARLY AGE YOU WERE DESTINED FOR THE CULINARY WORLD. IF YOU WEREN’T THE AMAZING CHEFS THAT YOU ARE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Claudio: I’d likely put that engineering degree to work.
Julio: Professional soccer player … or an insurance agent.
Ti: Professional ping pong player … or real estate agent.
IF YOU COULD COOK A MEAL FOR ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Claudio: My Grandma
Julio: Aaron Sanchez, the winning chef.
Ti: I’d love to cook for Jesus.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
Claudio: My wife
Julio: My son Elijah inspires me the most.
Ti: My faith in God is my inspiration to be a better husband, leader, partner, and server to my community.
WHAT’S YOUR TERRITORY?
Claudio: The beach
Julio: The soccer field
Ti: The Jiu Jitsu mat
AND FINALLY CHEFS – IF YOU HAD TO PICK JUST ONE, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TERRITORY MEAL?
Julio: The Thai Basil Chicken w/ Veggie Fried Brown Rice – because it’s sweet and spicy and packs a lot of great flavor!
Ti: The Chicken Japchae Sweet Potato Noodles– because they remind me a lot of noodles we eat with Korean BBQ.
Claudio: Sofia’s Chile Relleno w/ Ground Beef & Tomatillo Sauce– named after my Daughter. I was inspired by the flavors we experienced on a trip to Cancun, where we took her on her first trip. I came home and created the dish!