Chefs across the U.S. are bringing their Filipino flavors to the forefront of American eateries, serving up their culture through cuisine.
AANHPI Heritage Month: Michelin-starred Filipino fare in Chicago
Tim Flores and Genie Kwon are the husband and wife co-owners and chefs behind Chicago's Kasama, the world's first Filipino Michelin-starred restaurant.
"We want to do a casual Filipino concept with Genie's specialty, which is French-American pastries," Flores told "Good Morning America." "Kasama means 'together' in Tagalog. So it's both of our concepts in one restaurant."
The chefs have made a conscious effort to celebrate and further elevate Pinoy flavors.
Kwon demonstrated for "GMA" how she makes their ube -- a purple yam from the Philippines -- and huckleberry basque cake that gets dusted with powdered sugar on top in the shape of the Filipino flag.
"There's so many Filipinos here, yet so little restaurants that are available," Flores said.
Added Kwon, "Asian food in general sometimes has this really unfortunate stigma of being a cheap cuisine. So we really wanted to put our twist on it and elevate it."
- 2May 13, 2021
Flores also demonstrated one of their signature dishes that fuses a classic Chicago sandwich with Pinoy ingredients.
"Basically this is a take on the Italian beef combo sandwich -- we’re using our house made longganisa sausage," he said, referring to the red Filipino sausage that's similar to chorizo. "We do a shaved pork adobo, which is like the unofficial national dish of the Philippines."
Donuts in New York City with traditional Filipino flavors
Just over 700 miles away on the East Coast, Kimberly Camera and Kevin Borja have incorporated traditional Filipino flavors into one of America's most beloved pastries: donuts.
At Kora bakery in Queens, New York, Borja said "we're bringing Filipino cuisine to the masses and we always really say that donuts are really just a vessel."
Their business, born of the pandemic, has grown rapidly since its debut, now producing over 1,800 donuts in-house per week.
"All the flavors really evoke nostalgia if you are Filipino," he said.
Their flan recipe, which is used in one of their bestselling donuts, was passed down from Camera's late lola, or grandmother.
"I knew that I was going to use this recipe because it was so important to our family," she said, adding that her hope is to connect customers with her family's Filipino culture and heritage.
"I know that if it was meaningful to me growing up, that it's meaningful to another Filipino or Filipino-American out there."