Oakland gets a taste of the future of Filipino cuisine
We did it! Savor Filipino 2016 was a smashing success! Kudos to the amazing Volunteers, Committee Members, and of course our Sponsors, without whose deep collaboration and passion Savor Filipino wouldn't be possible. Now, as we reflect upon the days triumphs (and get some much needed sleep) we can't help but feel incredibly grateful for the strength of the community around Filipino Cuisine.
Savor Filipino began at Noon with 10 amazing Chefs presenting 10 unique twists on Filipino dishes that we all know and love. Guests eyebrows raised as they tasted familiar flavors within surprising form factors, and their minds raced as each Chef was interviewed live on the Lifestyle Network stage. Infanta, Tanduay, and Holy Craft Brewing were on deck to serve libations that transported tastebuds as they were consumed alongside more than 10,000 beautifully plated servings.
Savor Filipino Photos by A. Ramos
The evening was capped off with the Buksan Dinner Experience, an intimate 5-course dinner wherein each course was presented by a different chef as a story arch. In recognition of Filipino American History Month, each course spoke to to the historical context of our ancestral diet, visitors from abroad, and the journey to rediscover the Filipino identity.
We hope that we have been able to and contribute something meaningful to the conversation around Filipino food and personal identity. In the meantime, remember to support your local Filipino restaurants, go online in search of new pop-ups, and understand that each of us has our own truth about our cuisine.
Proceeds from Savor Filipino were donated to WestBay Multi Center - a non-profit that provides at-risk youth support in staying in school and pursuing college degrees.
LOVE FROM A MOTHER'S KITCHEN
ARTICLE BY LORA BUMATAY
My mother-in-law, Luzviminda Bumatay or Grandma Luz as we called her, was the Filipina Martha Stewart. Every holiday, she would decorate her house, meticulously design her dining table and execute a perfect mix of Filipino and American dishes. I always told her that her tablescape and food could be featured on Bon Appétit!
One of her greatest life's pleasures was seeing her family and guests eat her food and come back for seconds. She beamed with happiness and pride when people would comment they always accepted an invitation to her home because of the delicious fare she served. Chatter was lively and tummies were full at her parties.
The lengths she would go to, to feed her loved ones their favorite dishes were an impressive demonstration of her love, care and thoughtfulness. Whether it was a regular Sunday supper at home or a big birthday party, Grandma Luz would plan her menu days, sometimes weeks ahead. She would literally write down an itinerary of places to go with Grandpa Roger as the designated driver. They would make a day of grocery shopping. First heading to the commissary to order the prime rib, then stopping by a certain bakery to pick up a cake, then making another trip to a different store/bakery just to pick up dinner rolls that they knew were a favorite of my daughter's. Even after a tiresome day of being out and about, Grandma Luz always found the time and energy to be in the kitchen. Two days ahead of a gathering, she would prepare her pecan tarts. The day before a party she would make her signature bibingka and chop up ingredients for her vegetable lumpia and pancit. Hours and hours would be spent in the kitchen. Grandma Luz always made extra too, so that for example, when she made paella- my Dad's favorite, he would have some to take to enjoy later. Everyone went home with food from her kitchen after a party at her house.
It has been a little over a year since Grandma Luz went home to God. Even in her last days when she could not cook anymore, she would worry about what we would be eating in her home. She would send Grandpa Roger on short trips to pick up food, snacks or dessert when she knew we were coming over.
Of course, our family gatherings this year have not been the same without her and the food made from her hands. I spent each holiday at her home with a lump in my throat and a hole in my heart. We definitely felt her absence during each celebration as there was no paella, vegetable lumpia, pecan tarts or bibingka to enjoy.
On July 9, 2016 we had family and friends over to pray a rosary in her honor for her one year death anniversary. Grandpa Roger, also a great chef in his own right, made sure her standards were met. There was a dish each featuring chicken, beef, pork, seafood and of course noodles. Grandpa Roger made a huge roast beef, home-made lechon kawali and did his best to re-create her famous pineapple upside down cake. In addition, their balae's (in-laws) Uncle Ernie and Auntie Tessie, made beef mechado and every single family who came brought some kind of food contribution. Grandma Luz would often say, "my cup runneth over" and on this day, her table of plenty was definitely overflowing.
Months ago I found Mom's leche flan recipe written in her own hand. I have made it a couple of times at family get-togethers. One day I hope to find more of her recipes and try them. I promised myself though, that not until I can dedicate and replicate wholeheartedly the time, effort and love she put into cooking would I attempt one of her signature dishes. I am lucky that Mom passed on her cooking skills to her son Eric, my husband. As the saying goes, "Like Mother, Like Son," Eric spends a lot of time in the kitchen. He also makes special trips to out of the way places to bring home his kids' favorite foods. He spoils us with the meals he makes. Through him, Grandma Luz's legacy of love through food will continue. It is evident that every day, he lives the love he received from his mother's kitchen.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY NASTASHA ALLI
Summer is hands down my favourite time of year in Toronto, and Filipino food was everywhere this year. Here’s what that looked like - the movement’s in full swing!
Lamesa’s Summerlicious 2016 Menu
As part of this year’s Summerlicious festival (the best chance to check out some the city’s top restaurants offering prix-fixe specials), Chef Daniel Cancino and his team at Lamesa brought a progressive vision of Filipino food to life on the plate, using locally-sourced ingredients to create dishes that undeniably satisfy the Filipino palate.
Take Ensaladang Talong, a salad of smoky, charred eggplant nestled above generous dollops of calamansi crème fraîche, topped with a garlicky tomato and mustard seed caponata and strewn with crunchy puffed pinipig.
Or Lechon Lettuce Wraps, made with thrice-cooked pork belly (boiled, cooked confit then deep-fried) tossed with a zesty calamansi dressing, topped with garlic chips, finger chilies and a papaya-carrot-raisin atchara, finished with yet more calamansi in a light aioli.
I’m a particularly big fan of their Daing ng Bangus - milkfish cured in-house, served with a thick nut-based sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, red wine vinegar and cashews called romesco, a condiment that hails from fishing towns in northeastern Spain. You know that goes right with a briny, crisp-around-the-edges fillet of boneless bangus (especially near the belly). Ribbons of shaved celery, peppery radishes, pickled onions and crisp pea tendrils top it off, alongside a bowl of steamed white rice.
From walking in the door to the moment you leave, Lamesa Filipino Kitchen proved why they’re Toronto’s best Filipino food spot. They get genuine hospitality down to a science, and exhibit a vibe about them that bridges being Torontonian with being Filipino - the art on the walls say it best. From the way the menu is shaped (including ala carte classics to communal kamayan-style dinners) to provide diners a range of experiences with Filipino food, Lamesa’s definitely a destination in Toronto; bang on to sate those Filipino food cravings, executed with a refinement that’s earned over time.
Instagram favourite: Tito Ron’s Ube Turon Sundae
#Ooobae became acceptable to splash over all our social media accounts for a reason: this summer, intense purple hues took over scores of foodie accounts on Instagram, prompting several local online spaces to declare ube the next dessert craze in Toronto.
Tristen and Mike from Tito Ron’s (a Filipino-Carribean lumpia shop in Toronto’s eclectic Kensington Market) hit the sweet spot with their Ube Turon Sundae, scooping either all ube, ube/mango or ube/langka ice cream into a bowl topped with ube pillows (seriously addictive), banana chips and a twist on a street food classic - turon made with ube and bananas. After wandering into bakeries, sandwich shops, vintage stores and bars with excellent craft brews on tap, it’s the perfect treat for an afternoon spent exploring a tiny yet large world in one Toronto neighbourhood.
KulturaTO’s Street Eats Competition
I live for outdoor festivals in the city, and the love explodes tenfold when I get to enjoy a beautiful summer day wandering the streets of Toronto while munching on Filipino street food. My worlds collide in delicious ways!
From its start as a small community barbecue at the youth-led Kapisanan Community Centre, the Kultura Festival grew tremendously over the last decade and has drawn in crowds of over 15,000 to experience what being Filipino is like in Toronto - celebrating our culture, history and naturally, food. With events held in some of the city’s most vibrant public spaces - this year at their largest yet - the folks from Kapisanan (at the helm of this volunteer-driven festival every year) have much to be proud of as they continue to establish a mainstream market for Filipino food in Toronto.
Over the past couple years, Kultura’s “Kain Kalye” Street Eats Competition has become THE place for a generation of millennial Filipino chefs, caterers and food enthusiasts in the city to meet, talk shop and serve up their takes on Filipino food. You could say that, like others have about Toronto, we’re coming out of our shell by learning to be truly proud of who we are.
Lamesa had long lines for Pork Neck Inasal Skewers, charred and deliciously tangy, along with a legit Halo-Halo made from ingredients finished in-house.
Tito Ron’s served a playful take on sweet Filipino-style spaghetti, in a totally awesome fusion with hotdogs that turned me into a 5 year old at the doors of a Jollibee.
At Kanto by Tita Flips - downtown Toronto’s first Filipino street food vendor slinging take-out classics such as pancit, lechon kawali and lumpia out of shipping containers - I tried Cabcab, thin cassava flour wafers topped with shreds of Kanto’s cured beef tapa, tomatoes, green onions and a coconutty syrup. I imagine platters of these would disappear instantly at a party - and make excellent bar snacks!
I ordered Toasted Pandesal with Ube Cream Glaze and Coconut Jam from the guys at Merienda, whom I first met at a SALO Series dinner with Yana Gilbuena. Though a relatively simple concept, this dessert (that you can really have anytime) delivers three layers of distinct sweetness - first in a mildly sugary pandesal dough, then through the vegetal fruitiness of a glaze bursting with ube, and finally with coconut milk reduced for hours into a thick jam, filled with whiffs of toasty-until-almost-burnt coconut in every bite.
Savor Filipino Is Back!
Savor Filipino 2016 is back and all new!
New chef lineup.
The only thing that remains from the last event in 2014 are the Filipino spirit and love for Filipino food.
We are so grateful for the supporters and organizers of our last event 2 years ago. Over 25,000 attendees came to Savor Filipino '14! Because of this event, we were able to meet so many new people and collab with chefs from all over the country and abroad. We took 2015 off to get our non-profit status settled and to reflect on the year prior. Before we knew it, we were planning for the Savor Filipino 2016.
Savor Filipino 2016 will be held at The Overlook Lounge in Oakland, California. The theme is "buksan" which invites our attendees to open their minds and palates to the epic lineup of Filipino dishes and drinks to be offered. After the day event, there will be a VIP dinner in the same building where guests will enjoy a multi-course meal.
The complete chef lineup will be released shortly. Until then, stay locked on our Filipino Food Movement Instagram where we will announce a new chef from our roster ever Friday!
Interested in being a featured chef, sponsor or volunteer? Go to the official Savor Filipino website and apply directly on the website. Looking just to eat and drink? Get your tickets here! JUST SAYING...prices for tickets go UP on August 1, so get your tickets today!
We would also like to invite you to our Thunderclap campaign which also ends in August! Please help promote #FilipinoFood, The Filipino Food Movement, and Savor Filipino by pledging your support in this Thunderclap campaign!
All you need to do is click the link below and choose which social media platform you will allow the campaign to post a short, one-time post on your timeline.
Thank you to everyone who has supported so far! I see you and we are grateful! Our goal is 500 people and I have well over that on my friends list here on Facebook. If each one of you pledges, we can get Filipino food and our event Savor Filipino trending on social media!
Again, we thank everyone who is in this movement with us! While we know not everyone can make it to our event in October, we would greatly appreciate it if you share it with your friends and families. Our goal is to have a Savor Filipino in every major city in the nation. We can't do that without your help!
Don't forget to follow us on Instagram!
For all the food porn, go here: https://www.instagram.com/filipinofoodmovement/
For the info on events and see what the folks of the movement are up to, go here: https://www.instagram.com/savorfilipino/
Filipino Inspired in Chicago (An Interview with the Co-founder and GM of Oxtail)
ARTICLE BY JACQUELINE LAURI
* This write-up originally appeared on My Food Beginnings blog.
What does it take to make your food business idea come to life? For Chicago-based Fil-Am Rampelle Aguilar, it took guts, creativity and resolve to reconnect with his roots. In order to get his project off the ground, Rampelle pitched his story and concept on a crowdfunding website where he successfully rounded up the money he needed ($5,000) to host his first pop-up under the name, Oxtail Filipino Inspired, a concept he co-founded with his brother-in-law, Ben Sussman. On May 3, 2015, Oxtail launched its first official event, a dinner service held in a cooking class venue in Chicago. It was sold out.
What was on the menu? Though Rampelle associates his Filipino food memory with his grandmother’s cooking, Oxtail’s food is not like the food your grandma would serve. Their repertoire includes Oxtail Ragu in Almond and Peanut Kare Kare sauce, Shiitake Lumpia with Green Mango Slaw, Calamari and Longaniza Sisig and a lot more.
Now a little over a year since their first event, let’s find out how Rampelle, Oxtail and Filipino food, in general, is doing in Chicago. Take a read at the Q & A below.
MFB: Please tell us about your Filipino heritage.
RA: My mom is from Bulacan and Quezon City and my dad is from Aliaga,Nueva Ecija. My mom came to the US when she was 16 years old with my grandmother and some of her siblings. One uncle joined the US Navy from the Philippines and convinced everyone to come over. As for my dad, he was forced to leave the Philippines due to political issues and was able to find refuge through the US Navy as well.
MFB: What was it like for you, of Filipino heritage, to grow-up in the US?
RA: The neighborhood I grew up in as a child was culturally diverse and filled with many 2nd generation Europeans and Latinos. Everyone held onto their cultural heritage in some way. I learned to appreciate different households and how each family did something different.
Sometime in high school, I moved to an area which lacked any diversity. I went from having culturally diverse friends to being buried in a generic white demographic. This part of my life also made it difficult for me to stay in touch with my Filipino heritage. Filipino food was inaccessible; my mother worked late nights and I learned to appreciate American fair as majority of my meals. The lack of Filipino influence forced me to adapt to American food culture more.
Skip ahead about 10 years and I found myself trying to rediscover my Filipino heritage. Out in the suburbs of Chicago, Filipino food is not very accessible. My family relies primarily on house parties and family celebrations in order to keep the culture alive. It was a struggle growing up to keep tradition alive.
MFB: How did you get started in food?
RA: My first food job was server at a fried chicken restaurant in the suburbs of Chicago. It started as a summer job and led into a lot of other opportunities. Through High School and part of College, I was interning with my dad as a Junior Consultant at his practice. After a couple years of shadowing my dad and taking random jobs, I found myself working at Chipotle. This is where I learned everything about restaurant operations. I eventually left Chipotle to finish undergrad with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.
I initially had the goal to leave food completely behind and try to transition into a full time consulting position. Majority of my clients ended up being from the restaurant industry. After a couple years of supporting and starting, closing and selling other people's concepts, I made the decision to sell my own concept.
MFB: What is the concept of Oxtail?
RA: Oxtail is Filipino American. I identify with American cuisine more than Filipino cuisine. For the better part of my growing up, my mom was the only person to teach me about Filipino food. It was largely inaccessible and almost lost in our family for a long time.
Oxtail is a reflection of my Filipino roots working with other culinary influences. I'm not trying to be traditional, I'm not trying to be fusion, I just want to cook food that reflects my upbringing.
Our menu has some Filipino flavors, as well as dishes that are not Filipino at all. Our pop-ups are intermittent. We have been focusing on finding a partnership with another restaurant in order to create a more regular appearance. Most of our work has been for private catering and events.
MFB: How close are you to achieving your food truck and brick-and-mortar restaurant dream?
RA: We had to change our strategy several times and decided to start as a catering company. We still have a little way to go on the food truck and restaurant. Once we have a consistent following, we can start finding partners to help get the truck off the ground, then a restaurant group from there.
MFB: Which Filipino-inspired dishes are the favorites?
RA: Three of our signature dishes: Pork Belly Adobo, Ramen Fried Chicken and Oxtail Kare Kare. We get a lot of excitement about the flavor profiles for each dish. The amount of time and technique for the initial prep is always a wow factor. The reception has been mostly great.
The biggest complaints we get are the lack of authentic ingredients. I prefer to use something fresh, vibrant and in season, rather than using mediocre, out of season, wilted, authentic products.
Majority of the customers that try our food have never experienced any Filipino food. We tend to attract a lot of younger foodies who are adventurous eaters that are interested in trying all different foods.
MFB: Has Filipino food crossed over in Chicago? Why or why not?
RA: Filipino food is on the cusp of breaking through. There are about 18 Filipino restaurants in the entire Chicago land/suburban area. This includes grocery stores, mom and pop operations, as well as popular chefs working under a larger brand.
For non-Filipinos, the entry into Filipino food can be difficult. There is a disconnect with the Filipino population in Chicago vs. the amount of food that is represented. Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean and Indian food have somehow seen a huge growth in representation, but Filipino has been left behind.
MFB: What is the general perception on Philippine cuisine in Chicago?
RA: In Chicago, Philippine cuisine is still exotic to many people. I still meet many people who’ve never eaten at a Filipino restaurant. Most people I meet have only tried the cuisine at a friend's party.
MFB: What do you consider as your greatest challenges and accomplishments?
RA: My greatest challenge is building a consistent presence. I would like to make more consistent events, rather than once every several months. One of my greatest accomplishments is finding a cuisine that fits my style. I love working with Filipino flavors and look forward to applying them to different cooking techniques.
MFB: What’s your goal for this year?
RA: Our goal this year is to be a regular food vendor at a local farmer's market and build on our catering events.
MFB: If someone asks you for advice about opening a Filipino-inspired restaurant in Chicago, what would you say?
RA: People are waiting to experience Filipino food. Filipino food is ready for the spotlight. It's just waiting on people to take the chance and make it happen. With any restaurant concept, do your homework and be confident in your style.
Connect with Rampelle Aguilar:
Jacqueline Lauri is the founder of My Food Beginnings (MFB), a project endorsed by the Philippine Embassy in the US, to fire up an appetite for Filipino cuisine globally. Jacqueline is gathering personal stories and reinvented recipes from Filipinos worldwide for the forthcoming Filipino food anthology. Filipino food enthusiasts are invited to join the MFB collaboration on Facebook.