Fil-Am chef creates vegan versions of Filipino food in California

Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2021 01:54 PM

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Through the years in the San Francisco food scene, Fil-Am chef Reina Montenegro has made a name for herself for converting some of the most iconic Filipino dishes into healthier, vegan options. 

In her latest venture, Chef Reina, patrons can order directly at the window and enjoy their to-go orders at the nearby park -- or eventually, at an on-site parklet. 

"My goal is to have everyone try vegan food and not feel like they're not missing out on their meat. So it's definitely not just vegan food, it's hopefully good, great food they want to try," she said. 

Montenegro's restaurant is located in Brisbane, California, a small city south of San Francisco tucked under the lower slopes of the San Bruno mountain. 

Local elected leaders said they are proud to welcome Montenegro and her vegan takes on Filipino flavors. This as Filipino cuisine continues to grow in popularity among foodies across the country. 

"We know we're going to have a lot of people from Brisbane visiting this business. But I'm sure there's going to be so many more from out of town that's going to find Brisbane because of Reina," said Brisbane Mayor Karen Cunningham. 

"This location is incredible. The access is amazing," added David Canepa, president of the San Mateo board of supervisors. 

Montenegro said she and her staff have created the menu with typical Filipino favorites in mind.

"Our favorites are the sisig, which is very popular. We have the lumpiang shanghai. We have lechon kawali. So it's all these childhood Filipino classics that I have veganized that are very popular, so I think people are really going to love it," she said. 

The chef will be expanding her customer base while also offering an exclusive, all-purpose, plant-based pork analogue -- known as Omni-Pork. 

"We're going to start shipping our vegan meats all over the country, so that's a big thing coming up. We also have Omni-Pork, which is like this vegan pork coming all the way from Asia. They're launching in the US, so I'm one of the nine restaurants in the country that will carry it on their launch on April 22nd," she said. 

According to Montenegro, her new space will also serve as a place to produce virtual cooking demos and events.

Her content will be focused on product and restaurant reviews, showing people how to cook vegan food and inviting guest vegan chefs to cook alongside her. 

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