OSLO, Norway - For four days this month, two Filipino chefs took over Theatercafeen´s eminent kitchen and served Filipino cuisine favorites to a well-heeled clientele.
Dubbed the “Filipino Takeover,” the event held September 11 to 14 showcased Pinoy chefs Antonio “Jun” Cantiller and Liezl Enriquez’s take on Filipino culinary classics.
For the lunch menu, Chefs Jun and Liezl, who both work as sous chefs at renowned luxury hotel Grand Hyatt Manila, offered sinigang na hipon, pancit canton and chicken inasal.
For the dinner menu, appetizers included kinilaw na halibut, lumpia crab, pork sisig and sinigang. With dalandan splash and calamansi mojito for cocktails, dinner mains featured escabeche turbot, chicken inasal, oxtail kare-kare, and pork adobo. Turon and halo-halo were featured on the dessert menu.
“Overwhelmed po kami kasi first time namin na nakarating dito at ganito pa pala ka-popular 'yung restaurant na pinagtra-trabahuhan namin,” said Chef Jun, a self-taught cook with 10 years of kitchen experience.
(We were overwhelmed because it's our first time here and the restaurant where we worked is very popular.)
“Kahit short period lang kami dito, at least napakita namin sa kanila, naramdaman nila na may pagkaing Pinoy dito (sa Theatercafeen),” he added.
(Even if we only spent a short time here, at least we were able to show them, make them feel that there's Filipino food here.)
CAPTION: Kinilaw na halibut featuring Pinoy kalamansi was among the dishes featured for the dinner menu at the Filipino Takeover event at Theatercafeen in Oslo, Norway.
Theatercafeen has been for over a century a home for many influential members of Norway's arts and culture scene.
Chef Liezl, a culinary arts graduate from the College of St. Benilde at the De La Salle University Manila with two years of experience as sous chef, said they got nods from both Pinoys and foreign guests on their food.
“Mostly positive feedback sila, nasorpresa sila sa lasa ng mga niluto namin. Sa mga Filipino po, sinabi nila na parang ang hanap talaga nila ay lutong bahay, which is, 'yun talaga ang gusto naming i-deliver at the same time,” she related.
(We got mostly positive feedback, they were surprised with the flavors of what we cooked. Among Filipinos, they said they were really looking for something homecooked, which is what we wanted to deliver at the same time.)
She added that even Theatercafeen chef Stig Drageide was surprised with the turnout of guests who wanted to try Filipino food.
Philippine Ambassador to Norway Jocelyn Garcia was also pleased with the response to the event.
“Judging from the number of visitors who came to the Theatercafeen, it´s been full house so we are very happy that many of them, if not most of the visitors tried Filipino food and those who had been our guests who we have asked in the tasting menu were very happy,” Garcia said.
For both Chefs Jun and Liezl, the unique flavors of Filipino cuisine have a lot to offer to the foreign palate.
“Ang flavor profile natin ay maasim, at ang sourness po ng kalamansi is very unique, which I think they will really love,” Chef Liezl revealed.
(Our flavor profile is sour, and the sourness of kalamansi is very unique, which I think they will really love.)
“'Yung kalamansi natin, kung i-incorporate doon sa fish ng Norwegian napakasarap. Magandang combination,” Chef Jun added.
(If we incorporate our kalamansi with Norwegian fish, it's delicious. It's a great combination.)
Oslo resident and Pinoy community stalwart Ludy Fjeld also applauded the event.
“I think it is good what they are doing here, it seems like (the event) is a little elitist, pero still inviting sa lahat ng mga Filipinos (but it's still inviting for all Filipinos) and they are very supportive,” she said.
The Filipino Takeover event is a chef exchange initiative by TheaterCafeen and Grand Hyatt Manila, in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Philippine Norway Business Council.
It followed the first ever Norwegian Seafood Extravaganza held at Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig City from May 18 to 26 featuring stellar chefs, including Theatercafeen's Chef Stig, Filipino chef Margarita Fores and Grand Hyatt Manila´s Chef Mark Hagan.