Limitless: Pushing Filipino Food onto American Consciousness

A #FilipinoAmerican story as told by chef and restaurateur, Alvin Cailan. Read his full story below:“I started Eggslut inspired by the breakfast my father would set on our table on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. There would be a spread of plates on the table with pan de sal, sunny side up eggs, cheddar cheese, and fried spam. We each got to build our own sandwich just the way we liked it. Six years later, Eggslut is known as one of the best breakfast restaurants in the country, and I’m still tripped out every time I see people line up for it! It was just supposed to be a six-month pop-up! I’ve never set out to be the leader of the Filipino food movement. I was just hanging out casually with a group of Filipino chef friends and exchanging notes about how to make a good, crispy lechon kawali or random ideas on the state of Filipino food in the US. Then another Filipino chef started coming, and another after that, and the next thing we knew, we had the best Filipino chefs from LA hanging out with us. This led to Unit 120, a kitchen incubator meant for people who wanted to cook Filipino food, or any food really, but who could not yet open a restaurant necessarily. It’s a good time for Filipino food; we finally have the data to back this up. It’s pretty safe to put your money on it—just don’t make the mistakes I did. I’ve turned into an advisor for some Filipino chefs, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs. I’ve become the sounding board for their ideas, and I gave them a physical space to test their concepts. If they had a hard time running an operation where only five people showed up, maybe they shouldn’t open a restaurant yet, right? I want them to face the risks involved and realize for themselves how far are they willing to go for success. Promoting Filipino food is my passion, and I want us to uplift one another in the Filipino food community, instead of looking at each other as competition. We need to stick together and build a bridge. Filipino food can be a unifying thing elsewhere too. I want to promote Filipino food outside of the Filipino community—in Aspen, Pebble Beach, predominantly Caucasian areas and just totally shake people up when I say “shrimp paste.” My dream is to pack up a truck, go to the Midwest, and make lechon dinners. I want to be known as that guy who wasn’t afraid of color, wasn’t afraid of affluence or social class, and brought Filipino food to every level. We Filipinos have been here for 500 years, and our food deserves to be part of the culinary conversation.”About: Filipino American Disruptors is a month-long storytelling initiative powered by NextDayBetter x AARP AAPI Community celebrating the stories of Filipino Americans in a range of disciplines from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice QuimpoAARP California AARP Hawaii AARP New Jersey

Posted by AARP AAPI Community on Monday, October 16, 2017

Limitless: Pushing Filipino Food onto American Consciousness

A #FilipinoAmerican story as told by chef and restaurateur, Alvin Cailan.

“I started Eggslut inspired by the breakfast my father would set on our table on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. There would be a spread of plates on the table with pan de sal, sunny side up eggs, cheddar cheese, and fried spam. We each got to build our own sandwich just the way we liked it. Six years later, Eggslut is known as one of the best breakfast restaurants in the country, and I’m still tripped out every time I see people line up for it! It was just supposed to be a six-month pop-up!

I’ve never set out to be the leader of the Filipino food movement. I was just hanging out casually with a group of Filipino chef friends and exchanging notes about how to make a good, crispy lechon kawali or random ideas on the state of Filipino food in the US. Then another Filipino chef started coming, and another after that, and the next thing we knew, we had the best Filipino chefs from LA hanging out with us. This led to Unit 120, a kitchen incubator meant for people who wanted to cook Filipino food, or any food really, but who could not yet open a restaurant necessarily.

It’s a good time for Filipino food; we finally have the data to back this up. It’s pretty safe to put your money on it—just don’t make the mistakes I did. I’ve turned into an advisor for some Filipino chefs, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs. I’ve become the sounding board for their ideas, and I gave them a physical space to test their concepts. If they had a hard time running an operation where only five people showed up, maybe they shouldn’t open a restaurant yet, right? I want them to face the risks involved and realize for themselves how far are they willing to go for success. Promoting Filipino food is my passion, and I want us to uplift one another in the Filipino food community, instead of looking at each other as competition. We need to stick together and build a bridge.

Filipino food can be a unifying thing elsewhere too. I want to promote Filipino food outside of the Filipino community—in Aspen, Pebble Beach, predominantly Caucasian areas and just totally shake people up when I say “shrimp paste.” My dream is to pack up a truck, go to the Midwest, and make lechon dinners. I want to be known as that guy who wasn’t afraid of color, wasn’t afraid of affluence or social class, and brought Filipino food to every level. We Filipinos have been here for 500 years, and our food deserves to be part of the culinary conversation.”

About:
Filipino American Disruptors is a month-long storytelling initiative powered by NextDayBetter x AARP AAPI Communityommunity celebrating the stories of Filipino Americans in a range of disciplines from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.

NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice Quimpo