June 09, 2021
Link to Spotify
Welcome back to the BRL Friends & Family Playlist! I’m Jackie Martinez, Food Instagrammer for @chopwithjax and writer for the BRL Coffee Company blog. Each week we feature a playlist curated by one of our friends or family members that helps get them up in the morning. This week we’re chatting with the woman that will make you want to push your spice tolerance limits to the max: Chef and Co-Owner of Pinky’s Hot Box @pinkyshotbox, Angela “Pinky” Magdangal!
Will you experience nirvana with your tastebuds aflame or self-destruct in a puddle of sweat and chili-covered napkins? Check out our interview with Chef Angela and listen to her reggae and island music-inspired playlist with a sprinkle of R&B to encourage your chill vibes.
Name: Angela "Pinky" Magdangal
Instagram: @hellochefangela / @pinkyshotbox
Hometown: Simi Valley, CA - currently Torrance, CA
Occupation: Restaurant Owner/Chef of Pinky's Hot Box
BRL Favorite & Brew Style: CLOSER, drip
JM: Angela thank you so much for creating this week’s F&F playlist and sitting down to chat with me!
AM: You’re welcome! Thanks for having me.
JM: Could you kick us off by telling us a little about what you do?
AM: Sure! I’m the chef and part restaurant owner of Pinky’s Hot Box -- a hot fried chicken joint in Torrance, CA inspired by Nashville hot chicken.
JM: The restaurant is actually named after you, right?
AM: Yes, Pinky is a family nickname of mine. And Hot Box is obviously a double entendre. It’s a box of hot chicken, but it’s clever because people probably recognize “hot box” as something entirely different.
JM: Just look it up on the urban dictionary, people LOL. Have you always been in the restaurant business? How did you come up with the concept?
AM: I actually didn’t start out as a chef. I was an apparel and graphics designer for 16 years, but when I found myself losing motivation doing that work, I pivoted to one of my long-time passions -- cooking. Thankfully my family was always very supportive of me in pursuing my interests so I had that foundation to have the confidence to make the switch. I decided to go to the Art Institute in Hollywood and studied Culinary Management. In that degree program I not only got to learn all about cooking and hone my skills as a chef, but I also learned the ins and outs of how to run a culinary business.
JM: I love that you did that for yourself and followed your passions and interests. So why hot chicken?
AM: Well I received a call from my friend, Andy who is a co-owner of Pinky’s Hot Box along with two of our other business partners, and he proposed an opportunity and asked me to be part of the team. While Nashville hot chicken is gaining popularity quickly, you’re having to drive to Dave's in Hollywood or Howlin’ Rays in Downtown LA and there wasn’t really anything in the South Bay at the time. We wanted to create a local option here in Torrance. And while they had a business plan, they didn’t actually have any culinary experience or background so that’s where I came in.
JM: Have you been to Nashville and tried the hot chicken?
AM: I haven’t! So when we were coming up with the concept, me being Asian American and having never been to Nashville, I knew it couldn’t just be about Nashville hot chicken for me. That’s where the idea of doing different sandwiches every month came about. We were doing a new Asian inspired fried chicken sando each month and when we saw that people loved it, we decided to keep them on and expand our menu.
JM: That’s such a good idea. I was looking at your menu and everything looks awesome. I love the variety. Your OG Sando is the Nashville style hot chicken. I saw the different spice levels and it looks like there’s something for everyone, but the Blazing (hottest spice level) I’m sure is what people often like to try. Do you have any stories about people trying to do too much with the heat?
AM: OMG Yes! So the baristas from one of the neighboring coffee shops come in to get sandwiches for lunch and one time one of them said that his dad loves spicy food and so he brought him in to try the Blazing. Blazing has Ghost Pepper, Trinidad Scorpion, and Carolina Reaper (the HOTTEST chilis!) in it. He later told me his dad had to go to the E.R.
JM: Oh noooo! LOL
AM: I know he said it just didn’t digest well with him. And then there was another guy that was super curious about Blazing, but couldn’t take it so he ended up going outside the restaurant and throwing up!
AM: He said it was good but he just couldn’t take the heat!
JM: OMG that’s hilarious! So basically the chicken is delicious but proceed with caution if you’re going to try Blazing!! Hahaha
AM: It’s so funny because when I started making the different recipes, I could only go with Mild, but I’m slowly working up to Medium. But when I tried the Blazing initially I had to gargle vanilla ice cream!
JM: Oh my goodness that is so funny! Are there people that come in and order it regularly?
AM: Yes! When we had indoor dining, there was a father and son that would get it. The son is 10 years old and he would order three chicken tenders blazing and not even need any water or ice. His dad was saying he just eats jalapenos regularly.
JM: I love spice but I definitely am on the medium level and no higher these days. I went to a hot sauce festival and tried small amounts of all of the sauces. They had all the peppers you mentioned. Carolina Reaper was used in like EVERYTHING. Needless to say, my stomach was wrecked for like a month. Since then I think twice about pushing the spice limits lol. Do you have any other cuisines that you have coming up to use for new sandos?
AM: We’re in the process of adding a mala flavored sandwich (spicy numbing flavor from Sichuan peppercorns). I’m also incorporating Filipino flavors with the Adobo chicken sandos and longaniza loaded fries, which are a deconstructed version of the sandos. Kind of like poutine but with different flavors. I am curious to explore Indian heat and I would also love to add the flavor of harissa.
JM: That sounds so delicious! Mala is one of my favorite flavors. I was introduced to it a few years ago and can’t get enough. Creating new menus, cooking, running the business, running your household. It sounds like you’re a very busy woman! What is your morning routine like to prepare for a typical day in your life?
AM: As soon as I open my eyes, I grab my iPhone. Check the Pinky's Hot Box instagram account and read my emails. Review any notes from my team or my partners on how the previous days went or what we need to focus on coming up for the restaurant. I'll scroll through my photos and try to create a post for that day. I’ll do all of this before I get out of bed, which is so bad but it’s like the phone’s just right there.
JM: Hahaha we all do it! The phone is like that other person in the bed that you wake up in the morning with lol.
AM: Seriously! And then I tend to procrastinate in bed until the very last minute I need to get up. Because of that I usually don't have time for breakfast or coffee at home but luckily there’s a coffee shop right next door to the restaurant. But every Tuesday and Saturday I go to the park to walk/jog for 30-mins right before the Torrance Farmers Markets opens.
JM: How do you usually take your coffee?
AM: If I do have time to make it at home, I will make a good drip coffee, but If I'm at a coffee shop, I'll either order a hot flat white or cortado, always with a milk substitute like soy or oat milk and maybe a little vanilla syrup. If I am very tired, I will get just straight espresso, which I hate because it can be so bitter, but it’s the fastest way for me to get that caffeine in!
JM: That’s too funny! I usually do Kiss of Life from BRL if my heart needs a good jolt, but prefer Chanel for my everyday. I’ll sometimes make a big batch on one day so I can make ice coffee the next and can drink it faster/wake me up faster. When did you start drinking coffee?
AM: I started drinking coffee at the age of 15. Starbucks was next door to the retail store I was working at and for the longest time, caramel macchiatos were the only drink I would order.
JM: I was a caramel frappuccino fan myself. Do you have any childhood memories that include coffee in some way?
AM: My dad was always a coffee drinker. Every morning it was coffee and buttered pan de sal. He drank his coffee black. Curious, I tried it and spat it out. It was so bitter. I think it was Folgers. Later it was Keurig pods. When I learned more about coffee, I was determined to share with him quality beans.
JM: What's your favorite thing to do on a day off?
AM: I like to play music: piano, guitar, and ukulele. I'll download music sheets of my favorite songs and play those on the piano. I taught myself how to play the ukulele during the pandemic. That's been really fun to learn to play. Mostly classic rock, island songs, and fun pop songs. My mom gave me her old guitar and I got that all shiny and new, so I've been trying to learn how to play that again. My mom plays both ukulele and guitar, so playing alongside her has been a pastime that I like to share with her.
JM: What inspired you to pick the songs you did for the playlist?
AM: I love finding new music so I am always on Spotify or on Twitch watching Neil [play his morning show: Beans Rhymes and Life]. And usually when I’m at the restaurant I let the kids (aka, the staff) pick the music. The restaurant is usually pretty busy and high energy so when I’m driving home or at home I go for music that’s going to help me decompress. A lot of it is very Reggae and Island Music inspired and towards the end you’ll find more soulful new R&B that’s very melodic. It helps me zone out, forget about the stress, create good vibes, and take my attention away from the restaurant for a bit. I like, light one up too when I get home so that usually helps too and the music has that kind of vibe LOL!
JM: Hahaha I’m sure it was an excellent contributor! So what's something you want to do or do more of in 2021?
AM: I want to gather in public with groups larger than 6 again! Dine indoors, drink at a bar, attend parties and concerts, and open more restaurant locations!
We wish you continued and even greater success as you grow your restaurant, Angela! Can’t want to try every sando whenever we’re back in California!
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