As we prepare for our next popup, we’re excited to hear news from the US where Filipino food is ready to explode. Philippine cuisine has stayed on the sidelines over the years but interest has grown tremendously within recent years. This has been driven by not one but several Filipinos, natively born in the Philippines or second-generation immigrants, who have been waiting to see the Filipino food accepted in the international culinary stage. The revolution, however, of bringing Filipino food to the world started in the 70s with the original trailblazer chefs, cooks and restaurant owners such as Nora Daza, who opened Aux Iles Philippines in Paris. It has been a slow journey, the pot has been simmering for a long time but the time has come for Filipino food to be unveiled.
The heroes are not only restaurant owners and chefs who boldly go where most would not dare but also ordinary people who share the drive to make the cuisine known. In the age of digital connectivity, the world has become a smaller place and absolutely anyone can share their passions, especially with food. Food-loving Filipinos from Manila and all around the world, utilise digital media to share their favourite recipes, food photos and cooking videos. This media bombardment influenced our decision to make our way to New York and experience the movement ourselves. There was definitely a buzz in every place we visited, reinforcing our belief in the cuisine and strengthening our resolve to bring Filipino food to the British public.
Manila in itself is experiencing a culinary boom in the last three to five years. Filipino chefs like Claude Tayag, Margarita Fores, Glenda Barreto, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Sincioco, among others, are championing the cuisine at their own restaurants. They have taken the baton in leading the cuisine’s renaissance. Many restaurants, supperclubs or food-to-order places like Pepita’s Kitchen serving signature lechon (whole roasted suckling pig) with various flavoured rice, Fely J’s, Lorenzo’s Way, and Mesa are just some examples who are modernising Filipino food for Filipino palates. This resurgence has been noticed by American chefs and food writers like Anthony Bourdain who visited the Philippines not long ago and featured many dishes – sisig being his favourite and Australian food processing and training expert, David Carew, who said that there is a “robust food industry in the Philippines” which possesses the right mix of meat production and consumption.
Here in London, Filipino flavours has been on the radar since 2011 with the article of Tom Parker-Bowles, a foodie and food writer, entitled “Eating Exotic Filipino Food”. In a 2014 conference for the hospitality sector, it [Filipino food] was heralded as the “next big thing” once more. Today, supperclubs and pop-up restaurants, like maynila’s, are propelling the Filipino food revolution here in the UK.
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