Filipino Chefs Flex Their Food Fest Creativity

by Primrose Madayag Knazan
Food Blog on Instagram and Facebook: Pegonaplate

Fried Chicken Week, Le Vegan Week, and La Poutine Week have brought foodies out in droves to try creative spins on mundane dishes. Filipino Chefs across Winnipeg show off their creative flavours and fun takes on Canadian cuisine.

Chef Rommel Regadio of CRSP BNCH started as a home cook. His family opened CRSP BNCH and Sea Level 100 (at the same location) offering street foods featuring Japanese, Korean, and Filipino flavours.

Their first fried chicken sandwich was a foot long with egg salad and banana ketchup. However their Cheat Day sandwich with Nashville fried chicken between two grilled cheese sandwiches received second place for Voters Choice and Judges Choice honourable mention.

Across the city in Sage Creek, Chef Noel Sorriano of Block and Blade Restaurant made a deep-fried sandwich with chicken and curry sauce. Chef Noel trained as a chef apprentice for eight years then was an executive chef at a Saskatchewan convention centre before the pandemic brought him back to Winnipeg.

Chef Noel’s sandwich tied for third place for Fried Chicken Fest Voters Choice. Hopefully their Pulled Pork Fried Cheese poutine for La Poutine Week is equally successful.

Chef Charlie Villapando of Charlee’s Restaurant in Elmwood graduated from the Red River College Culinary Program. He worked in hotels and restaurants before opening Charlee’s in 2006, buoyed by a loyal neighborhood following and Filipino community support.

Chef Charlie wanted to create a dish reminiscent of late night Chinese food with garlic fried rice, salted fish, and fried chicken. Their Palabok Poutine for La Poutine Week has all the flavours of Pancit Palabok over cheese and fries. Chef Charlie also offers Filipino poutines on the Champs food truck menu (same location as Charlee’s) with sisig, caladareta, or kare kare.

Chef Eejay Chua from Baon Bistro/Manila Nights joined forces with Chef Aiden Thanh Tu of Khao House to create the Fried Chicken and Ube Waffles. Graduating from the Red River College Culinary Program, Chef Eejay worked at a Kananaskis resort and Winnipeg hotels before gaining restaurant experience under Filipino Chef Norm Pastoran.

Chef Eejay now offers Hawaiin spam musubi infused with Filipino flavours such as salted egg, tocino, or bagoong, available for order online along with the Baon Bistro/Manila Nights Valentine’s Day dinner special.

Chef Ben Fernandez from Uptown Alley has an extensive knowledge of international cuisines after 25 years’ experience working on cruise lines. Food is a family passion after helping his son open Grumpy Joe Restaurant in the Philippines, and his daughter working alongside him at Uptown.

For Fried Chicken Fest, Chef Ben put together a breaded ground chicken patty with bacon, apple slaw, and mac n cheese. Last fall’s Le Burger Week entry was a tapa burger with a sushi rice patty, asian slaw, and a fried egg. Both burgers are still available for order from Uptown Alley.

Chef Maureen Gelvis-Pfueger of Monuts Café in Osborne Village went to school in the Philippines for restaurant management, which included basic culinary training. She always loved to cook and started making healthier dishes after getting involved with body building. A hobby of selling protein doughnuts at the gym became Monuts Café where she offers gluten-free vegan protein doughnuts.

For Le Vegan Week, Chef Maureen offered a Baon Box with an adobo mushroom & cheeze sandwich, crispy kangkong chips, atchara, and a Turon protein doughnut for dessert. The popular Baon Box was a hit and the café extended hours to accommodate demand.

Support your favourite Filipino Chef during food festivals and every day through take-out and delivery.

Photos courtesy of Primrose Madayag Knazan