TORONTO – A casual stroll along Queen’s Street in downtown Toronto’s west side will lead one to Bernard’s Filipino Specialties—the only Filipino store that makes the best tasting lechon with guaranteed crispy skin.
The store, owned and managed by Bernard and Cely Farrol, was established in 1970.
“We were able to sell sometimes 3,000 pounds a week all over Canada and some parts of the US,” Mang Bernard said.
He added that only last year, the store sold almost 200 lechons during Christmas and New Year.
About 15 to 20 pigs are delivered to the store weekly. They are made to dry for 12 hours before Mang Bernard cuts an opening on the pigs neck to the stomach to put his secret spice.
The pigs are then placed inside a fully preheated oven at 450 degrees. The gigantic oven has the capacity to cook 6 pigs and even roast liempo.
Pigs are basted with water until skin gets tender. When skin is soft, it’s then basted with cooking oil every 20 to 30 minutes. The pig’s skin is randomly pierced to release air. The whole process takes about 3 hours to finish.
Mang Bernard literally starts and ends his day roasting lechon. At age 81, he is still very strong and capable of doing what he does best---serving and satisfying costumers.
“Kapag hindi masarap, hindi mo na babalikan. Pero pag masarap, babalik-balikan mo,” said Joseph Cruz.
Jenny Mariano is among the satisfied customers who frequent Bernard’s store.
“Masarap po yung lechon nila. It’s fresh and it’s the best in the city I've tasted,” she said.
Even foreigners who read about the store at a local newspaper stopped by to personally taste the Pinoy dish.
“I've heard about the place by reading something in the newspaper maybe 8 months ago. I love it. It’s fantastic,” said David Ramsden.
Joseph Edwin also does not mind traveling to Bernard’s Store to buy lechon.
“Masarap yung lechon dito kay Mang Bernards kahit medyo malayo kami, dindayo namin talaga ito kasi the best ang lechon ni Mang Bernard sa Toronto,” he said.