Know Your Local Chef | Woldy Reyes

Square Roots | 09.03.19

Woldy Reyes is the owner and chef of Brooklyn-based boutique catering company, Woldy Kusina, and long-time friend of Square Roots. After working in fashion for six years, Woldy left to pursue his passion as a chef, dedicating himself to the ethos of local and seasonal eating. When first starting out, Woldy catered for his colleagues in fashion. He was quickly discovered by goop and named one of New York Magazine’s top caterers. That’s when Woldy Kusina was born. Drawing from his Filipino heritage, Woldy’s food focuses on high-quality, local ingredients that are prepared in an exciting yet casual way. We dug more into his background and found his top tips for cooking for groups.

Woldy Reyes of Woldy Kusina taken by @tilitnyc

Photo: @tilitnyc

Having transitioned from a career in fashion to food, what have been your biggest wins, failures, or challenges?

The biggest win for me, having transitioned from fashion to food, is that I’m able to do what I’m passionate about, which is the art of cooking. I have the privilege to be creative in making a dish, to share with people and see their orgasmic reaction.

Your food is centered around being fresh and local. What is comes to sourcing, do you have any tips for home cooks?

The best tip I can give home cooks when sourcing ingredients is to go to their local farmers market and see what’s locally and seasonally grown. I strongly advise to chat up the farmers and understand how their produce is grown and when it’s harvested. The farmers know how fresh the produce is.

Your food is casual, yet flavorful and deeply satisfying. How do you let your ingredients shine when cooking for large groups?

Follow the seasons. When you follow the seasons you get the flavors at their peak. When I prepare dishes for large crowds, I use the most seasonal produce and work with them in their most natural forms. Simply season with salt, pepper, good olive oil, and garnish the dish with fragrant fresh herbs.

As someone who has hosted plenty of parties and large format meals, what are you top three tips preparing meals everyone will enjoy?

My first tip for entertaining a crowd is to have a beautiful, eye catching, and colorful display of fresh vegetables with a delicious dip. This will allow guests’ appetites to open and it’s a great conversation starter.

Second tip, have a signature drink or a cocktail flowing. This will get people to relax, enjoy, and converse with the host or hostess.

The last tip, if you are hosting in your home, get your guests involved in the process of making the meal. This takes the pressure off the host, and everyone will enjoy the company of making a meal together.

Woldy Kusina Dishes taken by @ciaodowntown and @christinarodriguez.pdf

Photo: @ciaodowntown and @christinarodriguez.pdf

In five words or less, what are your hopes for the future of the food system?

People should eat more sustainably.

Favorite restaurant in NYC?

Win Son in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Best NYC hangout?

Fort Greene Farmers Market

Favorite thing to cook?

Kale Guacamole

Three books, films, or people that have influenced your career?
  1. Salt Fat Acid Heat, docu-series on Netflix

  2. Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi

  3. Ina Garten

You can follow along with Woldy Reyes on Instagram @woldykusina and find more info on his website, woldykusina.com.

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