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Savor Filipino gets huge bite of success in San Francisco launch

/ 04:33 AM September 08, 2014

Hungry crowds eat up Savor Filipino at Justin Herman Plaza. PHOTOS BY JUN NUCUM

Audience at the cooking demonstrations.

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Justin Herman Plaza at the eastern end of Market Street was transformed into a giant Filipino restaurant for a day on Saturday, August 30.

This was how chef participant AC Boral of San Diego, California aptly described the successful launch of Savor Filipino food festival.

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So successful was the event that it attracted the palates of thousands of Filipinos and n non-Filipinos alike in the busy Embarcadero intersection.

Hungry patrons patiently waited on long lines that led to at least five food pavilions – fiesta, street food, karinderia, garden and dessert – that neatly occupied the floor area of the plaza.

Lee Sandaydiego had to skip momentarily the main courses in favor of his favorite dessert, halo-halo, to satiate his late lunch appetite.

“There are long lines in the food booths for main courses so for now, my wife and I decided to have dessert first before the main courses since we are already hungry. We lined up for our halo-halo since it is a hot day anyway,” Sandaydiego explained.

Foodies line up

Food enthusiasts came to the Filipino food fest for various reasons.

“I am going for the classy vegan Filipino cooking, and I am getting “ginetang seetaw” (ginataang sitaw),” Jay Schneider told INQUIRER.net while on line at the Garden Pavilion. “I live in Oakland and I am going to support the Filipino restaurant from Oakland — Kainbigan (eat friend) — that offers ginetang seetaw.”

For her part, Anne Marie Heil still yearns for the food she learned to love when she worked for a hospital in the Philippines.

Filipino Food Movement founder PJ Quesada with Apl.de.Ap.

“I love Filipino food that was introduced to me by friends I worked with at St. Mary’s Hospital,” she said. “They brought me Filipino foods that we shared during meal breaks, and I have learned to love them.”

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Heil was lining up at the Fiesta Pavilion. “My son just got here to visit from Florida, and I brought him here. I want to get the sampler platter of pancit, lechon and rice, something to share with my husband and son with a little bit of everything.”

“I chose lumpia because I always liked them since I first tasted them, both the skinny ones and the real fat ones. But I like the skinny ones more since they make me skinny too,” Mike Geninno of San Francisco joked on the line for the street food pavilion.

“I am having adobo and lechon. My ex-husband is a Filipino, and I have tasted them before because of him. I am a big fan of said dishes,” Kendall Carey related as she waited for her turn at the Karinderia pavilion.

Honoring chefs

While witnessing the enthusiastic response from foodies who came in droves, Filipino Food Movement leader and Ramar Foods Vice President for Marketing PJ Quesada happily addressed his audience from the stage.

“You are part of history, a big round of applause for you. We are here to honor the chefs that create the delicious cuisine that our ancestors have pioneered throughout the centuries,” Quesada explained.

“It has been shared by millions upon millions of people in many, many countries,” he continued. “It has been shared so much that in the Philippines we adopted many of these influences and created something totally new. We Filipinized so many things from around the world. So we are here to celebrate the heritage of our cuisine by sharing it with the world.”

In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Quesada elaborated on the current standing of Filipino food in the States.

“In the past two years at least (the movement) has increased its momentum by several orders of magnitude,” he said.  “Once we started approaching the community about putting on an event with very specific method to promote our cuisine to non-Filipinos, we started to find new chefs talents that were coming out of the wood works left and right.”

He added: “An outpouring of support for our vision has been really incredible, from all over the country and even around the world through the social media where we are getting reposted from England, Australia, etc. and even requests to bring Savor Filipino as a concept to other countries. So we have a very, very bright future.”

Quesada thanked his co-organizers, the chefs from as far as New York and all over U.S, a hundred tireless volunteers, sponsors, patrons and the foodies who braved the wonderful San Francisco summer heat.

Audience at the cooking demonstrations.

“The response here has been overwhelming in the best possible way. It is better than I expected, absolutely better than I expected.”

Apl.de.Ap’s adobo

For his part, celebrity “chef” Apl.de.Ap of the famous Black Eyed Peas, who cooked adobo in the Kulinarya pavilion, said that his Filipino mom and her Filipino dishes were his greatest influences in his cooking.

“I like cooking bistek the skills for which I attribute to my mom,” Allen Pineda, aka Apl.de.Ap intimated. “My other band mates I shared my Filipino dishes with while in London have different favorites. Will I Am likes chicken adobo, Fergie goes for bistek while Taboo digs sinigang and nilaga.”

Apl.de.Ap also urged all kababayan to “really promote our culture, and our food to non-Filipino friends, to make our dishes established and a household name on the same level as Chinese Japanese, Korean or Indian food here in the US.”

AC Boral said will always cherish his experience with other Filipino American chefs from all over whom he had only followed on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and still looked up to.

Boral prepared adobo, one of the dishes at Karinderia pavilion, for 1,000 persons, consuming 200 pounds of pork belly and 50 sacks of rice, which were all gone long before closing time with people still on line.

“This is our way of showing off our heritage, as well as our pride in being in the restaurant and food industry,” Boral said. “The people working in this event are doing big things in their cities and building restaurants and creating a name for Filipino food. Ultimately, our goal is to have Filipino food known to everybody and for everybody to respect and appreciate it. There are many others like us across the country.”

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TAGS: Apl.de.Ap, Black Eyed Peas, Filipino food festival San Francisco, Filipino Food Movement, Justin Herman Plaza, Kainbigan, PJ Quesada, Ramar Foods, Savor Filipino, vegan Filipino food
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