"5 Questions with Chef Danilo 'DJ' Tangalin of Bivouac Ciderworks"
By Andrea Bennett, Modern Luxury
"I've worked everywhere from Napa to New York City, but I got burned out by corporate," says Danilo "DJ" Tangalin, who left his position as executive chef of Tidal at Paradise Point to lead the kitchen at the brewpub, tasting room and restaurant Bivouac Ciderworks in North Park. He has worked with some of the country's best chefs, including at Le Bernadin with Eric Ripert, Cyrus with Douglas Keane and Volt with Bryan Voltaggio. So when Tangalin joined an upstart brewpub that came into being via a Kickstarter campaign with two first-time owners, we naturally had some questions.
How did you connect with Bivouac Ciderworks owners Lara Worm and Matthew Austin? I've worked everywhere from high-end places in Napa to New York City. But [in some] corporate jobs, there were a lot of bosses and I didn’t even know the owners. I was ready for a project that connected me to the community. When my friend told me about this project [Lara, Matthew and I] started chatting and it felt right.
Your kitchen connects with a cider brewhouse? Yes! The kitchen is definitely smaller than I’m used to since there are seven tanks! The dining room is 65 seats, with a 20-top communal table. Matt really focuses on cider, and I think that cider is going to be one of the biggest new things. When we started this project, there were only two cider places, but five more companies just applied for their business license. I want to be part of the start of that. We'll be serving up to 12 flavors, but with 24 taps for other people's ciders, too. Some of the flavors you'll find are Hawaiian black sea salt, and blackberry [Austin's signature, San Diego Jam]. But we'll also be doing Champagne- and Bordeaux-style ciders, and aging cider in vodka, bourbon and tequila barrels.
How would you describe Bivouac's food? When I was growing up in the Philippines my mom owned a cantina, and I was cooking at 10. [After culinary school] I started traveling and learning from a lot of great chefs, so I bring French, Italian, Spanish, and Filipino influences and finesse.
What dishes are you most excited about? Our menu format is a lot of shared items. Because cider is gluten-free, 75 percent of the menu is gluten-free, and about half the menu is vegan or vegetarian. The other 50 percent is very upscale pub. We have a roasted cauliflower dish that's vegan, with apples, Brussels sprouts and apple curry sauce topped with dehydrated apple "paper" for texture. It's all good ingredients, elevated—and nowhere close to basic. More robust dishes include our Pork, Pork, Pork burger, with a longanisa sausage patty topped with carnitas and deep-fried pork belly.
Bivouac's design is inspired by modern adventuring. Would you say your menu is, too? Because it has an outdoorsy feel, we have a lot of dishes focused on game, and we have a signature play on camping, so we're doing a smoked burger with smoked gouda, fried onion, and Philippine banana ketchup. And since Matt grew up in the Midwest, we’ll have a pan-roasted trout, with corn pudding, beans, and sauteed mushrooms inspired by him. One of our walls is designed to look like a constellation, so it’ll feel like being in the forest.