Chef Lamas of Seviche and the Value of Great Ingredients

November 2nd, 2015

Chef Lamas“When you have something right from the dirt to your table in hours, there’s something special about it. The flavor is like no other.”

Chef Anthony Lamas opened Seviche restaurant in Louisville KY with a goal: to make delicious Latin-style cuisine with local, seasonal foods. Chef Lamas just released his first cookbook, Southern Heat, to help eaters everywhere enjoy the flavor of well-grown food in Latin cuisine.

Chef Lamas’ love of food began while he was growing up in central California, an area often called “America’s Salad Bowl” in honor of the abundance of produce and the lengthy growing season. “My first introduction to food was agriculture, seeing it everyday. Growing up I used to watch families out there picking oranges. All the hard work that goes into it had an impact on me.”

Growing up around fresh produce and eating homemade Latin fare made with that produce brought food and agriculture together for him. He hated seeing good produce go to waste, and found ways to give people delicious food even before he could cook – gathering ripe windfall avocados and selling them at his own produce stand as a child. Meat was a luxury at home, so making and eating delicious meatless food was a tradition he grew up with; one that he maintains at Seviche to this day.

In Louisville, the produce and seasons are a little different, but they give Chef Lamas the chance to create original dishes with outstanding ingredients. Local farmers even comprise a section of his book, where he tells their stories and explain the richness their ingredients bring to his dishes. Farmers in the area will even grow specific foods just for his restaurant, including one who farms 87 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and 14 kinds of chilies just for him, as well as corn, squash, radishes, and peanuts. “People want to make chefs out to be rock stars,” Chef Lamas told Meatless Monday, “ but the farmers are the rock stars, they create the amazing things!”

Chef Lamas also took part in the James Beard Foundation’s fifth Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change in 2014, where he and other chefs like Tom Collicio spoke out about food labeling and safety. “We went to DC to lobby and speak about it. We want Americans to be able to know what’s in their food! We should be leading the world in health and awareness.”

The menu at Seviche always includes vegetarian options; options that are built on the vibrant seasonal produce of the area. With the layers of flavor and texture incorporated into vegetarian dishes like black bean tortilla lasagna and butternut squash empanadas, even meat eaters are sending their compliments to the chef and saying “I don’t miss the meat when I eat it.”

Meatless Monday will be coming to Seviche soon, and according to the plans Chef Lamas has been considering, the features for the Monday menu will be every bit as delicious and inventive as the food his restaurant has built its reputation on. You can read more about Chef Lamas’ work, learn about the farmers he champions, and cook the delicious recipes he’s created in his cookbook: Southern Heat