79 F
West Palm Beach
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Chef Angelo Arboleda Brings a Creative Flair to Kapow Noodle Bar

Kapow Noodle Bar's new Culinary Director, Chef Angelo Arboleda, shares his culinary journey and how he's bringing his creative flair to West Palm Beach through delicious Asian cuisine.

Foodies love Asian food. Here are five reasons why: 

  1. Asian cuisine has colorful, vibrant food and drinks that play with all our senses.
  2. The variety of dishes offers unique tastes and textures.
  3. Chefs love to experiment with Asian food.
  4. Most Asian foods are good for your health. They’re rich in vegetables and have the right combination of salty, sweet, and spicy flavors. 
  5. On average, their dishes are budget-friendly. 

Foodies are regular diners at Kapow Noodle Bar in downtown West Palm Beach precisely for the five reasons stated above. Newsflash: this hot spot is about to get hotter! How so? There is a new chef in town, and his name is Chef Angelo Arboleda. 

Before Kapow co-owner Vaughn Dugan brought Chef Angelo on board as his new culinary director, he closely followed the chef’s career. In a release to the media, he said, “His expertise and boundless energy align perfectly with our vision as we continuously evolve and expand the brand. Chef Angelo has already showcased his culinary brilliance by crafting some amazing specials, such as the Dashi Butter Poached Lobster and savory Caviar Egg Custard, which received glowing reviews from our regulars.”

 Naturally, we were curious about the rest of the dishes Chef Angelo is set to unveil gradually this fall season and how he plans to help expand the vision of Kapow Noodle Bar. So, we followed his culinary journey from Florida Culinary Institute to Kapow and chatted with him to learn how he’s bringing a creative flair to this foodies’ beloved Asian restaurant on Clematis Street’s 500 Block.  

Chef Angelo, as you know, Kapow was established in 2011 by Vaughan Dugan and Rodney Mayo of Sub-Culture Group, and since then, it has become an integral part of the area’s culinary landscape. How do you want to expand their vision?

Chef Angelo Arboleda: I’ve always been a big fan of Kapow. Their former chef, Tim Nicky, is a close friend of mine. Watching everything grow and evolve has been fascinating, and I think everybody has their time and place. Everything lined up perfectly for me to join the team at this time. I wanted to dive into the Asian world a bit more as it’s not my background, but through most of my career and experience, there have always been the ingredients and techniques from working with Chef Daniel Boulud in Palm Beach and places like that. As for the vision, working with this group is a pleasure; they allow chefs to be the chefs. I’m bringing the service level to the next elevated step from plating to presentation. We have some great food and foundation, but I firmly believe everything can always improve. And we’re embracing our guests, who have been with us for so long and deserve to get into that next level of creativity and infusion of items. The current menu has excellent flavors, but I’d like to bring in some lighter, fresher Asian flavors to the table by breaking the menu up so that there’s a little bit more of something for everyone’s mood for the day, a little bit lighter fare, bolder flavors, broths, and things of that nature.

How do you stay on top of what’s trending? 

We live in a world where we eat with our eyes, and everyone is hyper-focused on following the new trends. So, we’re staying on top of that. That’s where the Ube Cake inspiration came from. We’re seeing Ube cakes, a staple in any Filipino celebration—a light and fluffy cake with layers frosted and the most luxurious Ube buttercream. Ours will be like that. 

When are you rolling out your new menu?  

I am getting ready to roll out an interim menu, including desserts so that it’s not a massive shock to all our guests and staff. It will be done in two phases. We’re modifying about 60% of the menu and bringing in some new items, and hopefully, in another three months, we’ll do the next big rollout. We’re also bringing in a very skilled pastry chef to help execute my vision. 

If Chef Daniel, Chef Clay Carnes, and Chef Jean Pierre—whom you’ve worked with before— walked into your kitchen, what would you cook for them from your new menu?

Daniel Boulud is an interesting one. He made a tremendous impact on my career. He’s one of the most celebrated chefs in the world. He’s a purist French cuisine type of guy, so I’d have him try our new Grilled Oysters with a Chilled Cucumber Salad that has a nice play on texture, but you still get to taste that beautiful Persian cucumber. So it’s not lost in translation. 

Chef Jean Pierre is a big mentor of mine and has had a great establishment on Palm Beach Island for 30 years. He was from a very rustic French family from Normandy, and they put out some of the best food in Palm Beach County. And he stuck to what was true to the restaurant, which was very traditional. I would steer him toward the Wild Mushroom Chow Fun. There will be a slight modification as it’s a classic. 

And for Chef Clay Carnes? 

Chef Clay is well-known in West Palm Beach. He’s the Chef/Owner at Cholo Soy. And he’s funky. He likes big, bold flavors. His wife is from Ecuador, and I’m Colombian, so I watched him evolve through that process, where he was classically trained in Italy and went to South America and started playing with all of those bright, bold flavors. I would have him try the new tacos because he owns a popular taco restaurant. I would also serve him the new ramen dish and the Classic Tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork. Nothing super crazy. 

From Florida Culinary Institute to Kapow. Briefly, tell me about your culinary journey. 

My family’s background is Italian and Lebanese, but we’re Colombian immigrants. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother, making dishes from Lebanon. So, I had a decent background in flavors and cuisine as an adolescent. In my teenage years, I got into bodybuilding, and I had to cook for myself because that all started at home. And back then, there weren’t apps that you could plug in your body type. So, I was ahead of my time doing meal prep and cooking. That’s around the time when the big culinary revolution started happening, and celebrity chefs were on the covers of magazines. So, one thing led to another, and I found myself in culinary school. At 17 years old, I was the youngest one in my class.

How did your instructors react to that? 

[laughing] My first instructor saw some aptitude in me. He said, “Look, you’re going to learn some things here, but get a job.” That same day, I went over to Cucina dell’ Arte, met James Beard Award-nominated Chef Clay Conley, and got my first job. 

When did you go from cooking to management?  

The first half of my career was based on learning about the ingredients, techniques, and cuisine. Then, I got into management. My first sous chef job was with the Coniglios Family at Nick and Johnny’s in Palm Beach. Then I got into the financial side of things; it’s a necessity nowadays. And I continued on that mindset of staying in upper management. 

How was your experience at The Woods? 

After I left Nick & Johnny’s, I moved to Jupiter to Tiger Woods’ restaurant, The Woods, where I was a sous chef and worked with Chef Carmine DiCandia. He’s a very talented chef, but his strongest suit is building teams. He also made a significant impact on my career. I brought that knowledge over to a little restaurant in Harborside called Calavera’s Cantina, where I got into extensive management and designing kitchens.

What’s the most fun you’ve had in the kitchen? 

I enjoy openings. Anytime we’re doing orientation, you get to meet a ton of new people, and just watching that hiring fair go into showing 20 cooks how to sharpen knives and how to use them properly.

Do you like mentoring chefs?

Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It’s the best. 

What’s your worst kitchen nightmare? 

[laughing] There were a lot of them. I’ll shoot one out. I was working on a project in Delray. I might have been 18 or 19 years old at the time, and it was a $14 million project. It was two restaurants in one. The one downstairs was a Florida Seafood restaurant called the Atlantic Ocean Club. The executive chef was Jamie DeRosa, who had recently been at the Fat Duck, the world’s best restaurant for four or five consecutive years in the UK. And it was intimidating. 

He brought people from all over the world. And the chef de cuisine…was very rough. Looking back, I was a polite and hardworking young chef with a good bit of knowledge and a good foundation. But we were slammed. Certain dishes were coming off my station, including mussels, into this cast iron vessel that looked like a mussel. A million things can go wrong with this dish. You can burn the shallots or add the herbs too early. So, he opened the container and saw two mussels that had not fully opened, so he smacked them into the window. There were three of them. When I found the third that hadn’t fully opened, he grabbed the mussel and threw it at my head.

Sounds like a “Gordon Ramsay” moment!

Oh, yeah, that happened. It was a good thing that it did because I learned what to do, but also what not to do in the kitchen. That one was definitely ingrained in my head. 

Literally! Well, chef, best of luck with your new gig at Kapow.

Thank you, I’m very excited.

Latest

A New Era Begins at the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority

As Teneka James-Feaman steps into her new role, she brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of enhancing the downtown community.

Carmela Coffee: A Hidden Gem in West Palm Beach

Discover Carmela Coffee, a cozy and pet-friendly café in West Palm Beach that offers delicious coffee and food.

From CityPlace to Rosemary Square to The Square to CityPlace again

While change is inevitable, we hope that CityPlace will always remain committed to being a symbol of community connection and cultural celebration.

Setting Sail into History: Recap of the Annual Sunset History Cruise

Recap of the Annual Sunset History Cruise, hosted by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County on the 1926 classic wooden motor yacht Mariner III.

Newsletter

Subscribe to "The Weekly" and stay informed on the best of West Palm Beach with occasional story alerts delivered to your inbox, plus occasional alerts when we publish our latest stories.

A New Era Begins at the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority

As Teneka James-Feaman steps into her new role, she brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of enhancing the downtown community.

Carmela Coffee: A Hidden Gem in West Palm Beach

Discover Carmela Coffee, a cozy and pet-friendly café in West Palm Beach that offers delicious coffee and food.

From CityPlace to Rosemary Square to The Square to CityPlace again

While change is inevitable, we hope that CityPlace will always remain committed to being a symbol of community connection and cultural celebration.