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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"I remember my mom cooking it for dessert to follow dinner, but we'd always sneak in a few spoonfuls before dinner. We were living with my grandparents, aunt, and older sister in this memory. The only thing I remember is the smell and taste because in all cultures, when the people are quiet you know the food is good."
Though she is best known for her accomplishments in New York City, restaurateur Nicole Ponseca’s roots reach back to California. Last autumn, Nicole shared stories of her SoCal childhood with Filipino Kitchen. In this edition of Pinoy Food for the Soul, Nicole relates how her earliest memories of Filipino food replay today at Jeepney, and tells us the new memories they’re making at both restaurants that she loves most.
With their genderqueer performance persona Jerry Blossom, Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist Kiam Marcelo Junio addresses visibility and presence in "Filipino Fusions," a six-part online cooking show and cookbook.
Ellie Tiglao and her brother RJ of Kulinarya have been hosting their Pamangan! Filipino pop-up dinner series in the Boston area since August 2014. The dynamic duo of sibling chefs holds down a coast-to-coast collaboration: RJ lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and commutes to Boston once a month for each event.
Genevieve Villamora's description of the build-out phase of their new restaurant is an apt metaphor for the 'Bad Saint' way of doing things: opening up to a community and inviting them in with two pop-ups and the crowdfunding campaign; digging in deep in researching our cuisine and history and finding the right team to tell those stories with food.
Oxtail Filipino Inspired is the latest arrival on Chicago’s Filipino food scene. The brainchild of Chef Rampelle Aguilar and his brother-in-law Chef Ben Sussman, Oxtail aims to put a contemporary twist on familiar Pinoy dishes.
In this two-part lookback of the first #FKEDUP live collaboration in Boston this past February, Errant Diner, Paolo Espanola, and Filipino Kitchen's Sarahlynn Pablo reflect on the team’s brunch pop-up and participation in a regional conference for Asian-American college students.
Who is Chef Rob Menor, the man behind the Benjamin-printed bandana, the culinary artist who fights traditional standards on Balitang America? The Stockton-born chef says that he spent a decade cutting his teeth in Chicago; it was where he paid all his dues and learned the industry. He credits Chicago with making him the culinarian he is today, calling it "his graduate school." And while that is all true, there's also the side of Chef Rob that is very much rooted in Stockton, where he returned in 2014, looking for growth.