ELMHURST – Kevin Gundlach has always been passionate about cooking. This shines through at his new restaurant located at 570 S. York Road.
“My mom taught me how to cook,” the chef/owner of Flavah said. “I never went to culinary school.”
Gundlach, an Elmhurst native, grew up in the kitchen. As a kid, he recalls picking apples and strawberries with his mom and learning how to make jam and sauerkraut.
“My mom did stuff like that to entertain us,” he said.
When his mom went back to college at night, he would cook for his dad and brother. “I love cooking for people,” he said.
History in restaurant business
After he moved to Steamboat Springs, Colo., he worked under Chef Dom Riggio at Riggio’s Italian Restaurant and discovered he enjoyed working in restaurant kitchens. He later moved to Seattle and worked under Chef Sito at Mashiko.
The knowledge that he learned was invaluable. “They don’t teach that in school,” he said. “You can’t teach passion.”
When he moved back to Elmhurst, he was hired as the head chef at Chow-To-Go, where he stayed for seven years before leaving. “I was working seven days a week,” he said. “It was taking a toll on my health.”
He decided to open a restaurant and a lot more. His friends suggested he name it Flavah because he believes that food should have flavor, and the name stuck.
“Food doesn’t have to taste bad to be healthy,” he said.
Dishes full of ‘Flavah’
He uses only fresh, seasonal ingredients when possible. “Processed food will kill people,” he said. He smokes his own fish and buys his eggs from Hasselmann Family Farm.
His mission is to create real dishes that are not only delicious but full of flavor. He offers gluten free, dairy free, vegan and vegetarian options, and calls his style of cooking New American cuisine.
“People love it,” he said, and they enjoy trying a variety of different dishes. He enjoys cooking vegetarian and Indian dishes.
“We all come from different places,” he said. “We all cook different kinds of food.” He wanted to do something different and offer something for everyone. “I’m always looking for new things.”
Menu options at Flavah include a variety of soups and chilis, salads and sandwiches, and a rotating daily menu. There is a kids menu, and he offers breakfast items and cheese plates. Everything is prepared from scratch.
“We all come from different places. We all cook different kinds of food.”
You can often find him and his mom together in the kitchen making salsa, marinara sauce and refrigerator pickles, which he incorporates into his dishes.
The 1,800 square-foot restaurant seats 20, and he has a staff of five. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and he offers personalized catering services.
Specialty retail store
As well, there is a specialty retail store that sells a variety of items, including artisan cheeses and breads and in-house pickles, jams and sauces. Customers can also stop in and pick up frozen, ready-to-go meals to take home and reheat.
“I want to help my community,” he said, and offers classes from cheese pairings to canning to nutrition tips.
He’s excited about the response he’s gotten so far. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed,” he said.
For more information, visit flavahfood.com.
Note to readers: This story has been corrected to reflect that Flavah buys eggs from Hasselmann Family Farm, not produce.