slow jams toronto

Toronto sous chef left restaurant scene to start own project that keeps selling out

A Toronto sous chef that left a top restaurant has started up his own project, and it’s been selling out at festivals and markets.

Jeremy Saluma started the Filipino food pop-up Slow Jams in early spring 2021, serving Filipino Canadian comfort food like empanadas, turon, beef skewers, spicy BBQ chicken leg, lechon, lumpia and tapsilog.

"I struggled to find a job where I could freely express myself and find the inspiration to create dishes I was proud of and that excited me," Saluma tells blogTO.

"With the flavours of the Philippines still fresh in my mind from visiting there in 2020 and the desire to create something that was my own, I decided to take a chance and start my own business."

His first job in Toronto was at Cava, and he was actually the chef de cuisine at the high-end restaurant until its last service in 2019.

"There I had an amazing mentor in chef Doug Penfold where he encouraged me to be creative and really gave me the freedom to express myself and grow as a chef," says Saluma. 

"After Cava, I spent a brief time at Little Sister as the sous chef where I learned a lot about Indonesian food and their amazing bold flavours."

He worked there from September 2020 to March 2021, when he left after feeling it just wasn’t the right fit. He started developing the Slow Jams brand just a couple weeks later and did his first takeout pop-up that Easter. 

"The most popular items at Slow Jams are the lechon liempo, tender pork belly with puffy, crispy crackling and bbq skewers: sweet & spicy chicken, lemongrass beef heart, blood longanisa," says Saluma.

Following that, he was a vendor at Street Eats Market in Scarborough, where he made connections and developed the brand further. Now, Slow Jams has evolved into a full-fledged family business, doing catering and popping up at restaurants like Florette.

"From the design work, the baking, all the shopping and deliveries, it's all done with the help of my parents and siblings," says Saluma.

"One of the things I enjoy most about doing pop-ups is I get the opportunity to really interact with guests and create menus that best suit the surroundings of that specific event or client's needs."

For now, you can follow them on social media to find out when and where they’re doing pop-ups or to get in touch about catering. The exciting news is that they’re planning on building their own food trailer specializing in Pinoy BBQ and slow-roasted pork.

Lead photo by

Renee Suen

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