“It’s happening. You cannot stop it,” says Chele Gonzalez, describing how restaurants like his are helping put the country’s culinary scene on the map
From a DJ and nightclub owner in Spain to the head chef of Manila’s critically acclaimed restaurant Gallery Vask, Chele Gonzalez shares his passion with the Southeast Asia Globe for helping put Filipino food on the map.
“Most of the international [culinary] schools, they don’t teach Filipino food. So how are you going to establish it? How do you teach the new generation about Filipino food? It’s in the process of being established, it’s happening, because the world is tired of eating Thai food for ten years. Indonesian food is still there, but everyone knows about Indonesian food. But nobody knows about Filipino food. And the other side is how many Filipinos are in the States. It’s the biggest marketing country in the world – they start to cook more contemporary than Philippine food, more accessible to the different palates. They go to schools, they refine it a little bit, and that’s how this movement starts. There are two sides to it.
“For me right now [the Philippine restaurant industry] needs to be more established. There’s a lot of competition that comes from the US – they’ve migrated to the Philippines, and they have money. The Philippines is their last colony, and the [locals] love anything American.
Asian comfort food is typically marked by rice plus an egg joined together inside a bowl. In Gallery Vask, we hope to reintroduce these familiar flavors by taking them up a notch. Inspired by collaborations with Locavore in Ubud, Bali, we have in this bowl a slow-cooked creamy duck egg yolk surrounded by slices of duck breast, set on a flavorful adlai grain bed and topped with local sibujing from the family of spring onions. It is a nod to the familiar as it is a tribute to local produce, ingredients, and cuisine. @galleryvask #adlai #localproduce @restaurantlocavore #duck #egg #gastronomy #philippines #asias50best #theworld50best #food #foodie #foodporn
“You don’t see too many bad reviews of Filipino restaurants in the local newspapers. They’re very polite – everything is fine, at the end of the day. If a restaurant doesn’t work, it’s because of bad word of mouth. But sometimes not everything is fine – you need to refine your food.
“Right now is the opportunity to put Filipino food on the map. First of all, it needs to be more defined – it needs to have a clear language, so everyone can recognise what we mean by Filipino food. Second, people need to understand the need to be consistent about this and be responsible – establish very good traditional restaurants where anybody can go and have a good Filipino meal, have contemporary comfort food restaurants, and have restaurants like mine, where you can experience the highest level of what a country has to offer. I think Filipino food has a future – it’s happening. You cannot stop it.”
This article was published in the December edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.