Article by Jacqueline Lauri
In 2000, Reverdy with the help of Abelene and her family, took a big leap. They opened Lamesa, the first ever Filipino family restaurant in Oslo. Sadly, after operating for over two years, Lamesa closed down. But that didn’t dissuade them from re-introducing Philippine cuisine to the Norwegian public. Instead, they used this experience as a stepping stone for future ventures.
In November 2014, Reverdy got up on his feet and launched Bread N Butter, melding improvised recipes of Pinoy baked goods with Norwegian quality of freshness and presentation. Bread N Butter takes its Filipino bakers’ confectionery to nationwide and international food events, therefore exposing Filipino food to a broader audience. Some of their products are pan de sal, ensaymada and pan de coco. According to the couple, it’s pan de coco that has won over the hearts and the stomachs of the Norwegians.
It doesn’t stop there. Reverdy continues to innovate. He recently launched Cusina Catering, a fusion concept, serving bread and wraps filled with Filipino-inspired viands. Cusina Catering was conceived with the Norwegian market in mind.
The couple’s prowess is not just limited to food. Abelene is the chairperson of the Filipina Alliance Volleyball Group (FAVG) in Oslo and the head of all volleyball tournaments within the Filipino community since 2009. FAVG has been a part of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation with three all Filipina teams in the league since 2014.
In 2013, Abelene, in cooperation with FilCom Norway and the Philippine Embassy in Oslo, led and united the different organizations in the capital city. For the first time, Philippine Independence Day was commemorated as one unified celebration. She also spearheaded the first fundraising concert event in Oslo for Typhoon Yolanda victims together with FilCom, the embassy and other organizations.
When asked why Filipino food was slow to catch up in the Norwegian food scene, Reverdy and Abelene had a very intriguing theory to share. It is not because of Filipinos’ lack of entrepreneurial spirit. It’s not because of “hiya” or shame to showcase Filipino food to foreigners. And it’s definitely not because Norwegians don’t have the propensity to try new cuisines, because they do. The full interview, including their theory, will be published on My Food Beginning’s on June 2, 2016.
On June 11, the biggest Filipino food festival in Norway, in conjunction with the 118th Philippine Independence Day celebration, will be held at Youngstorget, a popular square in downtown Oslo. Around 10,000 people are expected to attend. Lechon (roast suckling pig), BBQ, pancit (noodles), kakanin (native Filipino delicacies) and a lot more can be sampled at the event. Of course, Bread N Butter and Cusina Catering will be there.
The goodness of many can overshadow the crime of one. Let’s hope the festival makes a big enough impact, not only for sustained interest in Filipino food in Norway, but also for us to be known as a people, worthy to be proud of our heritage, our culture and our food.