Filipino-American Chef Wins 2024 Best Chef in California Award

Lord Maynard Llera, the name synonymous with LA’s Filipino food revolution, has done it again. This time, on the national stage. Llera, the owner and chef behind the beloved Kuya Lord, has been crowned the 2024 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in California.

2024 Best Chef in California Award

Photo from @cheflordmaynard on Instagram

This prestigious award, often referred to as the “Oscars of the food world”, recognizes culinary excellence across the United States. Llera’s win marks a monumental moment, not just for him and his restaurant but for Filipino cuisine as a whole.

Kuya Lord’s journey is as inspiring as its food. It began humbly in 2019 as a pop-up with Llera showcasing his unique take on Filipino flavors through dishes like the now-legendary Longganisa Sandwich.


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A post shared by Kuya Lord (@kuyalord_la)

The overwhelming success, fueled by social media buzz, led him to transform his own garage into a temporary kitchen during the pandemic. This dedication and passion culminated in a permanent 21-seater gem on Melrose Avenue consistently lauded by publications like the Los Angeles Times, Eater, and Bon Appetit.

Llera’s menu draws inspiration from his Lucena City roots, blending traditional Filipino cooking with techniques honed during his culinary journey in the US. The result? A menu that sings with vibrant flavors, celebrating Filipino heritage with a modern twist.

This James Beard Award is not just a personal triumph for Llera; it’s a significant win for Filipino food. For too long, Filipino cuisine has been underrepresented in the culinary spotlight. Llera’s win shines a much-deserved light on the beauty and complexity of Filipino flavors, inspiring a new wave of appreciation for this rich culinary tradition.


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A post shared by Kuya Lord (@kuyalord_la)

So, what’s next for Kuya Lord? With this prestigious award under their belt, expect even bigger things. One thing remains certain though: Llera’s dedication to showcasing Filipino food with heart and soul will continue to draw crowds and redefine what it means to experience Filipino cuisine in California.

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