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Alvin Cailan grew up in a Filipino household with parents who encouraged hard work. To keep young Cailan out of trouble, they got him a job as a dishwasher, and by the time he was a senior in high school, Cailan had moved on from scraping plates to managing the kitchen. Not yet convinced that a career in food was for him, Cailan studied business at California State University and landed a job at a construction firm. The job didn’t last long, but in a stroke of luck, Cailan walked away with two years severance—money he used to bankroll the culinary career plan of his dreams. Cailan went to the Oregon Culinary Institute and staged at Matthew Lightner’s Castagna (six of the hardest months of his life), Elias Cairo’s Olympic Provisions, Bouchon, and French Laundry.
After graduation, Cailan served as Michael Hannigan’s chef de partie at Portland, Oregon’s Ten 01, before returning to California to work at Chef David LeFevre’s MB Post—where he cooked a lot of eggs. Putting all his eggs in one basket, Cailan launched the egg sandwich concept Egglsut as a six-month pop-up. Wildly successful, Cailan opened a permanent stand in Grand Central Market. The line for sandwiches is not for the faint-hearted. Eggslut Las Vegas came shortly after, as well as several more outposts in L.A. In 2015 he opened Amboy, and Unit 120, an incubator for ambitious but green cooks.