Thursday, January 10, 2013

Filipino Food on Top Chef


Back in this blog's heyday, I wrote briefly about a Filipino Top Chef contestant. On tonight's episode, Sheldon Simeon's modern Filipino restaurant concept and sample dish won him a spot as executive chef in next week's Restaurant Wars episode where he will get to execute his concept.

For as often as I complain about how Filipino food isn't more popular, one of the blog recaps of tonight's episode referred to how Filipino food is on the come up. I guess I've been eating too many McRibs to notice.

In my last post about Filipino food and to this day when I talk about my culture's food, I'm insecure about how people feel about it. Chef and TV personality, Eddie Huang, had some of the same concerns during a visit to one of the Bay Area's well known Filipino joints. I have always asked myself: how do I get other people to like Filipino food?

Despite my recent infatuation with Korean culture, I still love Filipino food. I love ladling diarrhea-looking dinuguan on rice. As Huang suggested to a worker at the restaurant he visited, we have to be better at describing what our food is and what's in it. Wait, dinuguan is pork blood? With pork stomach and other weird parts? Nevermind.

I randomly encountered the awesomely named Señor Sisig food truck while in San Francisco recently. They prepare sisig/adobo style meat served on rice plates, tacos, burritos and nachos. It's delicious. And it made me think we will just have to hide this shit on tacos to get people to eat it.

So on Top Chef tonight, when Sheldon Simeon said he was going to make his restaurant concept revolve around Filipino food, I was excited but also a little bit nervous. There have been other talented Filipino chefs on Top Chef, but only in a few instances did they ever prepare a Filipino dish. Here was Sheldon talking about how he wanted to do a whole restaurant with Filipino food.

Sisig tacos probably lack the refinement of a winning Top Chef dish. I wondered what the hell he would make for the elimination challenge. Sheldon ended up winning the episode and the chance to execute his modern Filipino cuisine concept with sinigang of all things.


I chuckled every time a white person called it "sour tamarind soup" tonight. One of the judges took a sip and was like "wow, this soup is sour in a great way that makes me want to STAND UP." And I'm on my couch like, "Yeah, bitch, that shit is SOUR!"

A lot of things usually go wrong for the chefs during the Restaurant Wars episodes. No matter what happens next week, though, Sheldon put Filipino cuisine in the spotlight for a little while. He answered my question. How do I get other people to like Filipino food? Make it well and let people eat it.

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