Woldy Reyes

Woldy Kusina
New York City / Leeds, NY
Woldy Reyes is a fashion muse. On the day we met him at The Awkward Scone, he came in with perfectly coiffed hair wearing sneakers and a navy blue, utilitarian jumpsuit that on anyone else would look, well, frankly silly. Reyes began his adult career in the fashion industry, working in editorial, styling and in-house wearing several hats at 3.1 Phillip Lim, one of Busboy’s favorite brands. Over the last few years, Reyes has realized his real dreams and opened his own namesake catering company. While he isn’t running his company, he is running long-distance across not one, but two bridges every morning. Even thinking about his jam-packed schedule makes us inspired and tired.
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NOTE: All information in this interview is from 2019

What is your name, age and where are you from?

My name is Woldy Reyes, 33, Los Angeles, California. I’m from Walnut, California, it’s basically a small suburban neighborhood east of Los Angeles. Houses all look the same, you have to drive everywhere but there is an amazing Asian food culture there - you can get authentic Chinese, not PF Chang’s and also Mexican. I was fortunate to grow up in that neighborhood where there is a lot of food culture there. That is where a lot of my flavors come from. 

What was growing up like for you? 

Food was a very integral part of my family. I actually had two meals; right after school our school bus would drop me and my brother off at my grandmother’s house. She would make a pre-dinner right after school around 3 or 4. She would make traditional Filipino food. And two or three hours later, my mom or dad would pick us up from our grandmother’s house and we would go home and we would have another dinner. Growing up I was a fat kid. It’s my family’s fault for pudging me up.

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What meal reminds you most of childhood? 

Filipino food specifically what is now becoming trendy is what I grew up eating. Like Filipino adobo, rice, always rice of some sort. There’s always been stews. Every Friday, my grandmother would make Monggo, mung bean stew, it was her repertoire. Those are the things I remember a lot of. Where I am today, I am trying to recreate what I used to eat growing up and modernizing it. 

What is your role? 

At my own company? I am everything and anything. I am the dishwasher sometimes - most of the time. I pick up after people, I cook for people.

We love how cook was the last thing that came to mind.

Literally! It’s such a production. I mean, as soon as an email comes along, I try to respond to it. I have to be responsive. I’m happy to do anything and everything - nothing is below me. If something spills, I’ll literally wipe it off. I am a jack of all trades, wearing all the hats. I’m the owner, the chef, party planner and the caterer, all under the same umbrella.

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How did you get into this industry?

In the beginning, I worked in editorial and then I left editorial to work at Phillip Lim. While at Phillip Lim, some days I would assist a stylist and whilst assisting, I was also trying to figure out how to break away. I worked for Phillip Lim for a very long time, I worked in corporate but then I decided to work in the store part-time as the hours were more flexible and I was thinking of changing careers. It gave me the time to figure out how to go here. I think at one point, I was getting busier with catering and that’s when I knew it was time to make the break.

What do you think working in this industry has taught you?

Patience. When you have a vision and you try to delegate it to someone else to execute that vision, and it takes longer for that person to execute? Each person is not built the same way as you are, people think differently so this is where your patience kicks in.  

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