Chef AJ Santiago
AJ was born and raised in Northern Philippines. Growing up in a household of 12, he was exposed at an early age to the authentic cooking of his grandmother and uncles. After attending a career planning event in high school where he met with a culinary instructor from Art's Institute, AJ knew he was destined to be a chef. He spent the early stages of his career cooking at multiple Japanese restaurants and later joined Pappas Artisanal, where he met Chef Kyle Barretto. Shortly after, he spent several years exploring new cuisines and techniques, interning and working for renowned chefs in Southern California at restaurants like Roomforty, Union Pasadena, and Faith & Flower LA.
Chef Kyle Barretto
Born and raised in Yorba Linda, CA, Kyle spent a lot of time in the kitchen with both his Navy Chef grandfathers, sparking his interest in cooking. After high school, Kyle attended The Culinary Institute of America in New York for a short while before moving back home and finishing his education in Culinary Management at the Art Institute of Orange County. While studying, Kyle interned at Sashi in Manhattan Beach under Chef Makoto. After graduation, he worked at the Michelin-starred Hatfield's in Los Angeles as a Chef de Partie and later became part of the opening team that launched the re-vamped Landmark in Corona Del Mar, where he worked his way up to Sous Chef in just a few months.
After parting ways with Landmark, Kyle went on to work at Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point under Executive Chef Raj Dixit, where he learned to refine his previous training while developing a growing appreciation for farm-to-table cuisine. After a year at Stonehill Tavern, Kyle got offered to run kitchen operations at Pappas Artisanal as a Chef de Cuisine for 2 years.
"We wanted to go back to our roots," said Chef Santiago and Chef Barretto, "so we partnered up to create the pop-up restaurant Kalan Kitchen and focus on the unique cuisine and culture of the Philippines."