DJ TANGALIN Executive Chef
Danilo "DJ" Tangalin, Jr.'s humble beginnings started back in his home country of the Philippines—where he was born and raised—until his family migrated to Hawaii at age 16. Cooking and running a business was a part of his DNA, with both parents being great cooks in their own right, as well as growing up working in his mother's family-owned and on his family's fish farm. It was truly a family affair in running the little cantina, which served taxi and bus drivers, students on their lunch break and mothers who didn't have time to cook after work. After 3 years of living in Hawaii, DJ and his family moved and settled in Cape May, New Jersey where he attended the Academy of Culinary Arts. While in school, he worked with a chef who, under his tutelage, pushed him to the next level.
In 2009, DJ received an Associate Degree in Applied Science, graduating with a silver medal and was promoted to Sous Chef, at age 22 and two years later becoming Chef de Cuisine. Knowing there was still much to learn, DJ left to travel across the country, staging at high-end restaurants and working elbow-to-elbow with renowned chefs such as Andrew Carmelini (Locanda Verde), Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin), and Daniel Patterson (Coi), Bryan Voltaggio (Volt), Douglas Keane (Cyrus), and Iron Chef Jose Garces.
In 2012, DJ landed in San Diego as Sous Chef of WhisknLadle, getting promoted a little over a year later to Chef de Cuisine for their concept restaurant PrepKitchen in Little Italy. Two years later, he moved on to JRDN as Sous Chef, eventually becoming Executive Chef. After being promoted to Corporate Chef at Eat.Drink.Sleep, he was tasked to open Decoy in San Marcos, California.
In 2016, DJ joined Tidal Restaurant as Executive Chef. With the restaurant's waterfront view and tropical aesthetic, DJ was reminded of the Philippines, and drawing from heritage and years of culinary training, he created a menu presenting a contemporary take on Filipino food. In DJ's kitchen, he educated young cooks about Filipino cuisine and its cooking philosophy and took a seasonal approach that helped make Filipino food more approachable in San Diego.
About the Design
From the restaurant to the design details and the logo, the design of Gaya Gaya takes inspiration from Filipino tradition and culture. The design of the restaurant features natural materials and traditional touches, such as a ladder hanging textiles from Mindinao, a bilao—traditional plates woven from bamboo strips—wall, a miniature bahay kubo and so much more. The logo (Carabao), designed by Aleya Zenieris and Sabrina Ruiz, takes inspiration from traditional igorot weaves and bahag patterns, meant to symbolize the hard work of tilling the land, sowing seeds, and harvesting crop.