Pinoy Food for the Soul is a series where we interview people who love Filipino food and ask them to share a memory with us.
Since 2012, Southern California based Chef AC Boral playfully remixes Filipino American classic dishes with his enterprise, So Good & Delicious. In October 2014, he brought his skills to Chicago. Filipino Kitchen worked with Chef Boral and Ray Espiritu of Chicago's Isla Pilipina restaurant to host RICE & SHINE, a popup Filipino brunch for dinner.
Filipino Kitchen: Why are you back in Chicago?
AC Boral: Chicago has a very special place in my heart. It's the first city that I ever lived in. I went to school out here, to Loyola [University]. It's been a couple years since I've been back here. I've grown a lot as a person and found myself in a lot of ways, and I want to share the person I am now with the city that I love.
FK: Do you have any local ties in Chicago?
AC Boral: Yea, my local ties -- one of my lolas lives in Mt. Prospect, I've got some family that's in the area, [though we're] not super close. But my ties are strongest with the people that I know from college and that I've met from the 5 years of living here. We're still really good friends and it's like we never missed a beat in the time that I haven't been here.
FK: What is your favorite Filipino food memory?
AC Boral: My favorite Filipino food memory? I would say that the most resonating memory — the important memory for me is when I was a kid. Food has always a huge part of my family. We love to eat, we love good food. But there was one time, when I was probably about six or seven, I don't really remember how old I was, I don't even know if my dad remembers it. But he made kare-kare, and I remarked something negative about how the way the kare-kare looks. And he got pissed -- as I would if someone were to say that about my food today. You know, he sent me to my room, and I didn't eat. It made me really respect what he was doing at the time. In retrospect, it made me really understand there is heart and soul and value and love in the food. And for me to reject it or put it down is something that isn’t good and is disrespectful. Since then I've really tried hard to maintain an open perspective on food. I try not to “yuck” anybody’s “yum,” to use a saying. Just be respectful. Because food, especially after you've been in this industry -- you learn that making food is really, really hard. And making good food is even harder. Making great food is a really special thing to do. And I really am trying to make great food.
If we're talking a happy memory, I would say a lot of times during the holidays, me and the cousins would get together and we'd have the lechon on the table, we would joke that that [lechon] was our long lost cousin. You know, my family has a really good sense of humor, and we always go out to eat. There was one time we went across three different counties: we went to LA, OC and Ventura County in one night to eat at different places. We'd eat somewhere, then drive one hour to somewhere else. Those times when I spent a lot of time with my family eating ridiculously good food and gluttoning out, [those are] really, really good memories.
FK: What are your future plans?
AC Boral: I've got some cool things lined up, which I'm gonna be announcing soon. But you know, I don't have anything specific, but what I do know is that I do want to play a part in the food world and be an influencer -- in particular, in the way the world sees Filipino food, because I identify with it really closely. I have a lot of pride in it. So if I had to say something, I'd be an ambassador of Filipino food across the world. Isn't that the dream? That's the dream, right?!