Darell Ariola, the Bondfire Restaurant Group Employee of the Month, has always been a talented visual artist.
“When I was very young I was doing art,” he says, “and I was in many contests.”
That talent serves the Philippines native well. Darell attended a culinary school called the American Hospitality Academy, which was the first American school in Manila. After graduation he was sent in 2007 to the Hilton in Myrtle Beach for an internship. That’s where he met Larry Bond, president of Bondfire Restaurant Group, and Eddie Halwenge, currently the general manager of the Noizy Oyster restaurant where Darell is a chef.
After the Hilton Darell worked for seven years as a banquet chef at Sand Dunes Resort & Spa in Myrtle Beach before helping out at Bondfire’s first restaurant, ART Burger Sushi Bar.
“I joined the Bondfire Group because it gives me opportunity and training,” Darell says. It is a place where a chef can have choices, like a molecular gastronomic kitchen at The Chemist, or a classic southern style kitchen at the Noizy Oyster. Or to be more creative, you can go to ART. There’s so much diversity in one company.”
Darell helps out at all four Bondfire restaurants with his art, which he describes as “not so typical” and “outside the border.” In addition to cooking at Noizy Oyster, he provides bread and ice sculptures for events, carves pumpkins and makes crafty artwork. He also has a background in food photography.
Everything he does is a step toward the future.
“My plan is to have a restaurant,” Darell says. “James Beard will recognize it someday. It will be Asian-Southern inspired, a fusion. For example, you know how with southern cornbread you typically bake it? I’m going to approach it in a different way and steam it, Asian style. I have a lot of things to look forward to in the future.”
Darell an eldest son of Angel and Nina Ariola, grew up in barangay Bagong Silang, town of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque province. He graduated at Sta. Cruz Institute (SCI) and studied culinary arts at American Hospitality Academy-Philippines. He is now working and residing in South Carolina, USA.