Pinoy street food bags people's choice award in European competition

Rosemary Toledo- Menta, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2019 11:56 AM

Carmelita Penpeña (2nd from left) and Alfie Escabarte (center) Thrilla in Manila Pinoy Street Food – People’s Choice Award Winner for European Street Food Awards for Denmark 2019. Photo courtesy of Rustan Jay Menta.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A selection of Denmark’s best street food entrepreneurs competed in the world’s largest street food competition, the European Street Food Awards (ESFA).

The best street-food trucks and pop-up tents from European countries impressed judges and guests with their culinary skills. Ten out of 124 members of Street Food Denmark joined the prestigious gastronomic street food festival last September 13-15 at Uncle Danny's Square Meat Village in Vesterbro, Copenhagen.

Alfie Escabarte and Carmelita Penpeña's Thrilla in Manila became the first Pinoy street-food cart nominated for ESFA Denmark. They also bagged the People’s Choice Award or the votes gathered from the guests during the competition.

Thrilla in Manila won 7,500 DKK (1000 EUR) worth of gift certificates from INCO Cash and Carry.

Carmelita said they were contacted by the ESFA Denmark organizers and advised them that they were selected as one of the best street-food trucks in Copenhagen.

“It’s overwhelming because who would’ve thought our little shop would get so much attention. God is truly able!” she said.

According to Chef Alfie, their small family food-truck business is a union of their Filipino and Scandinavian heritage, diversified with their passion for food and culture.

“I talked to my wife about what to come up with a plan, to start a food-truck business and to put Filipino food on the map of Scandinavia. So, we presented Filipino food with a twist, we put Filipino roots in our cuisine. Now, it’s getting more popular and people like our Filipino street foods. So, I think it’s very nice,” he said.

Chef Alfie grew up in Denmark and his wife, Carmelita, came from Sweden. They may have different Scandinavian backgrounds, but when it comes to food, their Philippine roots created a great taste of various Filipino street dishes with a twist.

Chef Alfie serves gluten-free foods from beef tapa, chicken bao and his famous well-seasoned pork barbeque skewer served with pickled onions, fresh lettuce varieties, bean sprouts, chives, coriander, chili and, of course, rice.

Thrilla in Manila’s Best seller – Pork Barbeque Skewers served with fresh salad and rice. Photo courtesy of Rustan Jay Menta.

Thrilla in Manila’s mantra, “Have a try, don’t be shy” made their customers want for more as they offered ‘free samples’ of their foodies. Serving Pinoy street food cuisines is their family’s way of bringing back to their Philippine roots and be proud of their own country.

“Thrilla in Manila, they do the food as it should be done. Fast deliverance of healthy and tasty foods and I really love it, especially the skewers,” said Christian Willesen, owner of Street Food Denmark.

“Carmelita and the entire Thrilla in Manila, they have been amazing. It was a people’s choice and it’s very convincing and a lot of people said that they have the best street food that we can have in Copenhagen,” said European Street Food Organizer for Denmark, Jesper Kauffeldt.

Launched in 2017 by the British Street Food Awards, ESFA is composed of 9 different nations. In 2018, ESFA grew to 13 countries and in 2019, Denmark, Austria, Iceland and Latvia joined the popular food contest.

Thrilla in Manila and Dhaba Indian Street Food (Jury Award) will represent Denmark in the European Finale in Malmö, Sweden on September 28-29 with participants from 15 countries.