I met wonderful Filipinos and they filled me with their stories of determination, history, discipline, generosity, pride, passion, patience and love. They have become my family. That’s how I knew I left Chicago with more knowledge about Filipino food than ever before. I take home with me more stories, more passion, and more love for the Philippines. I take home with me more fuel to make more Filipino food.
As the group prepares for its second year of Savor Filipino, first held in 2014, the Filipino Food Movement has received some criticism from the Filipino food community regarding operations of the upcoming event and how they reflect issues of gentrification in Oakland.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Errant Diner, that’s Paolo’s chef-moniker (much as insists he’s not a chef). Along with Hidden Apron, his collective of like-minded not-chefs, he caters private events, hosts pop-ups and generally kicks ass at all things gastronomic. Significantly, a portion of the proceeds from every Hidden Apron event benefits Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK), a nonprofit working to end hunger and malnutrition and improve school attendance among rural children in the Philippines.
Team Isang Araw touched down in Chicago and made a beeline for midnight diner food. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but not to worry, we were getting Doughnut Vault in the morning!
No we weren’t. They sold out. Still, Rick Bayless’s Xoco was nearby and a good backup plan.
Sarahlynn and Natalia met Chef Sharwin Tee in Manila during their respective trips home to the Philippines.
I met him in the parking lot of a Burger King off International Boulevard in Oakland.
The last time I was in the Philippines, I was like a pulverized piece of ceramic. I was broken. This was the same year that I lost a great friend, an uncle and a grandfather in less than five months. I was unemployed and nothing was going according to plan
I hadn’t been in Manila long enough to adjust to the climate or even recover from the twenty-hour flight from Chicago before I met up with Chef Sharwin Tee of Lifestyle Network’s Curiosity Got The Chef.
“What are we calling this thing?” Chrissy asked, referring to the pop-up’s title.
“BAGO!!” Sarahlynn saw my blank stare and clarified, “That means ‘new’ in Tagalog.”
"But that's not reeaalllly Filipino food though, is it?" Definitely an if-I-had-a-penny phrase if I've ever heard one mentioned.
If in translation something is lost, can something new be gained, too? Photo essay from Chef Bryan Collante's Chicago pop-up dinner, "Lost in Translation," with Dinner Lab on February 4, 2016.
Sure, I may rarely, if ever, make bagoong myself in Chicago, but there’s something comforting in knowing that I know how. Bagoong, the funky, fermented seafood paste, is a mainstay of any Filipino’s kitchen. It’s a salty, aged, rich fish flavor… The blue cheese of the seas.
Kultura, a modern Filipino American food and arts festival, was meant to reimagine Filipino cuisine with those of us lucky enough to grow up with it and to introduce it to new audiences. We didn’t realize that we were creating our own space.
Chef Cristina Quackenbush of Milkfish in New Orleans tells us her favorite Filipino food memory, from her childhood in Indiana.
Our Filipino-ness is not something we switch on from October 1 to 31. It’s not a costume. Filipino is part of who we are, always. October is every month, and Filipino American History Month is a special time for us to celebrate and remember who we are. Chicago’s Sunda celebrates Filipino American History Month with weekly specials all October, culminating with a kamayan dinner on October 25.
“If you crash on that motorcycle, make sure you die.”
It’s a philosophy he applies to all areas of life, not least of which is managing the restaurant he runs with his brother Sam and his sister Toki. The sibling team opened their doors this spring and haven’t stopped since. We swung by for a visit in June.
Can’t say we blame Ingrid van Eeghem, owner of de Karpendonkse Hoeve, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Netherlands, for inviting Chef Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa of Purple Yam Brooklyn and Malate to be guest chefs for a week. We got hooked on Purple Yam when we visited Brooklyn last fall. The food was phenomenal, not to mention what Chef Romy had to say about it.
With a spirit of collaboration, photographer and humanitarian Bryan Alano produces pop-up dinners that he hopes leave diners with a satisfying meal and thought-provoking ideas to take action in his adopted home of Los Angeles and his hometown of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.
Kalsada is a company working to raise both the quality and profile of Philippine-grown coffee, and by extension the Filipino coffee producers’ quality of life.
Chef Leah Cohen is working to get the cuisines of Southeast Asia out into the dining world, at her New York City restaurant. At Pig & Khao, Chef-owner Leah taps into her Filipino-American heritage, her travels and professional experience in Southeast Asia to showcase Filipino cuisine alongside its Southeast Asian counterparts.
Paolo Espanola is the writerly, philosophical and culinary creative who dabbles in blogging, catering and pop-up dinner-throwing under the moniker The Errant Diner.