Collected Writing from Filipino Kitchen, 2014-2018
Here is a collection of my work published at Filipino Kitchen. Filipino Kitchen is a food media and events group that connects Filipinos across the diaspora with our culinary heritage, culture and history. I led Filipino Kitchen with my collaborator, Natalia Roxas, from 2014 to 2018.
“Going From Good To Great: Mapping The Journey To Magna With Chef Carlo Lamagna In Seven Dishes” on December 27, 2017.
Chef Carlo Lamagna is a Philippine born, Detroit raised, CIA- and Chicago-trained chef, mastermind behind the pop-up dinner series, Twisted Filipino; and chef-owner of the eponymous, fully Kickstarter funded, soon-to-open Portland, Oregon restaurant, Magna. This is the story of Carlo’s journey from good to great, in seven dishes.
“Something Gained: Chef Bryan Collante,” on February 18, 2016.
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.
“How To Make Bagoong,” on February 15, 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 Festival: Filipino American AF,” on November 8, 2015.
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.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Chef Cristina Quackenbush, Milkfish, New Orleans,” on November 5, 2015.
Chef Cristina Quackenbush of Milkfish in New Orleans tells us her favorite Filipino food memory, from her childhood in Indiana.
“Nothing To Prove: Filipino American History Month At Sunda, Chicago,” on October 19, 2015.
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.
“Developing Community: Bryan Alano, Photographer, Humanitarian And Pop-Up Dinner Producer,” on August 29, 2015.
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.
“Pig & Khao: A One-Stop Southeast Asian Food Tour by Chef Leah Cohen, New York City,”on August 12, 2015.
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.
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.
“Seeing And Being: Kiam Marcelo Junio Fuses Genderqueer Identity And Filipino Food Culture In Web Series And Book,” on May 9, 2015.
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.
“Bad Saint Reaches Kickstarter Goal To Open Filipino Restaurant In DC,” on April 28, 2015.
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.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Genevieve Villamora, Bad Saint, Washington DC,” on April 25, 2015.
Genevieve Villamora is co-owner of Bad Saint, Washington DC’s soon-to-be newest restaurant, alongside co-owner Nick Pimentel and chef Tom Cunanan.
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.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Chef Yana Gilbuena Of Salo, A Fifty State Filipino Pop-Up Project,” on March 1, 2015.
Life’s a journey, not a destination: Certainly a phrase that Chef Yana Gilbuena has taken to heart these two years. As a self-dubbed “gypsy chef,” Yana, has traveled to a new state each week to throw a Filipino pop-up dinner on Sunday nights.
“Eating The Crab Mentality: Collaboratin’ In Boston And Beyond,” on February 13, 2015.
With a workshop at the East Coast Asian American Student Union annual conference at Harvard University and a pop-up brunch the following day, a collaboration of strong, successful Filipino Americans prove that the crab mentality is only worth eating.
“How To Build A Better Lumpia: Chef Neil Syham Of Lumpia Shack, New York City,” on January 14, 2015.
Even though the basic principles of making lumpia shanghai are fairly straightforward many things *could* and sometimes do go wrong. Here’s a few pointers on building a better lumpia from Chef Neil Syham of New York City’s Lumpia Shack.
“Two Lechon, Both Delicious: 3 Pinays Eat Puerto Rican Lechon,” on January 7, 2015.
Lechon, all over the Latin world, means whole roasted pig. Like the Filipino lechon, the pig is the magnificent star of the puertorriqueño Christmas holiday feast table. This begs the question, is the Philippines part of the Latin world? Are we indeed the ‘Lost Latinos’ as Filipno American comedian Rex Navarrete has joked? We visited Puerto Rico’s lechon capitol, Guavate, to find out.
“Filipino Parties Are The Best: Maddy’s Dumpling House Filipino Christmas Pork Dinner,” on December 27, 2014.
True to her dinner series name, Chef Chrissy Camba, over the course of three days, stuffed and rolled and steamed and fried little parcels of thin skin wonton wrappers and spongey rice flour dough full of tasty Filipino Christmas goodness. If that isn’t the Christmas spirit, then I don’t know what is.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Chef Chrissy Camba of Maddy’s Dumpling House,” on December 13, 2014.
If life were a giant dodgeball game and we get to choose sides, I’m on the side of the pinays (or Filipino ladies) from Chicago. Especially if those pinays were chefs. We’d been meaning to check out Chef Chrissy Camba’s new popup project, Maddy’s Dumpling House, now for weeks. Her Christmas Filipino Pork dinner on Monday, December 15, gave Natalia and me a wonderful excuse. This lady is a fighter.
“Rice And Shine: Anatomy Of A Pop-Up Brunch For Dinner,” on December 10, 2014.
Filipino Kitchen started in my kitchen — a long time ago, on a different blog — with a bowl of lugaw that became my most visited post. The idea of spinning off a Filipino food website that linked culture to cuisine to current events and history brewed and simmered in the long polar vortex-frequent winter of 2013-2014, as Natalia and I made dinners in, steeling against the cold. Although the starting point for Filipino Kitchen was a multimedia blog, the immediate satisfaction of working with our hands, cooking our food together and eating together as a celebration of our culture is where we really started. Natalia and I always had catering, popup dinners, farmers’ markets and cooking classes in our broader vision. Though after only two weeks of publishing our first blog post, opportunity came a’ Tweeting.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Christopher Saclolo, Artist,” on November 16, 2014.
“Because I’m second-generation Filipino, I wanted to bring my own sense of identity, not just taking out of my parents. The painting is part of the reflection, second-generation Filipinos trying to figure out who they are,” said artist Christopher Saclolo.
“Pinoy Food For The Soul: Billy Dec of Rockit Ranch Productions,” on October 18, 2014.
I really believed and still strongly believe that the stories of our people, the people making the food, should be right alongside their recipes. This is the first in a series where we get to know the people who cook, eat and love Filipino food, and find out what their favorite food memory is. This first in the series features Billy Dec, the CEO/Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, an Emmy-award winning entertainment TV personality, an attorney and a weekly on-air contributor on ABC-TV’s “Windy City Live” and on 103.5 KISS FM radio. Most recently, Dec was appointed by President Obama to serve on his White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Sunda, The Open Secret Filipino Restaurant In Chicago’s River North,” on October 22, 2014.
Sunda is just the ‘New Asian’ we were waiting for.
“Sampling The Filipino American History Month Menu At Sunda Chicago With Executive Chef Jess DeGuzman,” on October 22, 2014.
“It’s one dish that I remember my mom making all the time… It’s the one I remember from my childhood that I always enjoyed… Now that I work here at Sunda I get to do those things all over again.”
When I open a container of adobo, here’s what I expect to see: A lot of sauce. The juicy, dark meat chicken is coming off the bone. It’s steaming hot, with a bunch of freshly cooked jasmine rice at the ready.
“Life, Liberty (For Some), And The Pursuit Of Empire: A History Of The West In The Philippines,” on October 12, 2014.
As today we celebrate Columbus Day in the US by going into stores and taking whatever we want (/sarcasm) and all this October we celebrate Filipino American History Month, we decide to find out where these intersect: the history of the West (Spain and the United States) in the Philippines.
“The Secret To Great Halo-Halo,” on October 5, 2014.
It’s a secret to making the Filipino cold dessert that’s in plain sight. But sadly it’s one secret that many a Filipino joint has horribly overlooked.
“Looking For Authenticity?” on September 11, 2014.
I felt the first post on the blog should address authenticity because the word became meaningless, or in other cases, a false code for legitimacy. You ask all your Filipino friends. You read Yelp reviews. You even search Twitter. You want to eat some delicious, authentic Filipino food. Like for real for real, legit from the PHILIPPINES. But how do you find it?