Photo Felix Cheng


Filipino Flavors
Tradition + Innovation

Saturday, May 15 &
Sunday, May 16, 2010

The International Culinary School at

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco

10 United Nations Plaza

San Francisco, CA


Join the Asian Culinary Forum in the heart of San Francisco for an exciting, weekend-long celebration of the foods of the Philippines.

We’ve gathered a highly seasoned, perfectly spiced blend of chefs, scholars, writers, winemakers and musicians for two days of special events. Focus on the topic closest to your heart or indulge in an all-weekend, all-symposium pass.

Many thanks to our valuable partners for helping make this symposium possible: The Art Institute of California-San Francisco, the Consulate General of the Philippines, Asia Society Northern California, and Culinary Historians of Northern California.


(Wed May 12 is the last day to buy tickets!)



Master Cooking Class


Sat May 15 | 9:00 am–1:00 pm * * * SOLD OUT! * * *
In this hands-on cooking class, cookbook author and restaurant co-owner, Amy Besa, will teach the fundamentals of using the three classes of traditional souring ingredients: natural vinegars, sour fruits and citrus fruits. While this class will take place in the  professional training kitchen of The International Culinary School, be sure to bring your notebooks, pens and active listening skills: Amy will honor a long tradition of oral storytelling and verbal recipe instruction in this rare, special cooking class. After the class, students will enjoy the food they’ve learned to cook: pork sparerib adobo, chicken adobo, short-rib adobo, shrimp kinilaw, oyster kinilaw, and sea bass sinigang soured two different ways.
Capacity: 20
$85 per person. Ticket sales end May 12!
[buy now] * * * SOLD OUT! * * *

Wine & Food Pairing


Sat May 15 | 2:00–4:00 pm
     Is the cuisine of the Philippines wine-friendly or wine-phobic? What kind of wine goes with adobo or pancit or caldereta? Is there life beyond San Miguel? Explore new movements in Filipino food and wine pairing with Master Sommelier Reggie Narito, and let your own taste buds lead you through a friendly, interactive tasting of a range of wine styles matched with a sampling of classic Filipino dishes. With Filipino food’s unique set of cultural and culinary influences — Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American — you’ll be treated to some surprising matches that work very well. Don’t miss out on this revelatory sensory experience.
Capacity: 70
$45 per person. Online ticket sales end May 12!
[buy now]

Scholars’ Panel


Sat May 15 | 4:30–5:00 pm registration & reception, 5:00-6:30 pm discussion

     Who defines the contours of national cuisines? What forces have shaped dishes new and old, in the homeland and among diaspora communities? Our esteemed panel of writers and scholars — Joachin Jay Gonzalez, Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, Alex Orquiza and Benito Vergara — will share their recent, fascinating research on little-known events, critical policies, influential individuals and formulative movements that have determined how and what Filipinos around the world eat. Moderated by Catherine Ceniza Choy.
Capacity: 45
$15 general admission, $10 students
. Online ticket sales end May 12! [buy now]



Sat May 15 | 7:00–9:00 pm    * * * SOLD OUT * * *

     Whose recipe reigns supreme? Considered by many to be the national dish of the Philippines, adobo is personalized by household with each version passionately championed. Enjoy a gustatory tour of long-held family recipes and innovative variations on the theme. Taste, drink, mingle, move and groove to live music, then cast a vote on your favorite entry. Competition is open to all community members and amateur cooks. (Competitors are set - see below!) Top prizes will be awarded by popular vote and by our panel of distinguished judges. Keith Kamisugi will serve as our gregarious master of ceremonies and Lumaya will provide music.

Read about the contestants and their dishes on the ADOBO THROWDOWN page.

Capacity: 120
$20 per person
. Ticket sales end May 12! [buy now] * * * SOLD OUT * * *


Presenter & Sponsor Reception


Sun May 16 | 11:00 am–12:30 pm
This private tasting will highlight artful, rich creations featuring our favorite ingredient: chocolate. Tsokolate and truffles and champurado — oh my!
Open to
All-symposium pass holders (see below)

Literary Reading


Sun May 16 | 1:00–2:30 pm, with light refreshments
     Local writers share their poems, fiction and essays about two of the most important facets of life: our families and our food. Barbara Jane Reyes, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Aileen Suzara, Aimee Suzara, Lizelle Festejo, Yael Villafranca and Lisa Suguitan Melnick read from their books and works-in-progress. Oscar Bermeo emcees.
Capacity: 45
$5 general admission, $3 students. Online ticket sales end May 12!
[buy now]

Chefs’ Panel


Sun May 16 | 3:00–5:00 pm panel discussion, 5:00-6:30 pm wine reception
     Acclaimed chefs, authors and restaurateurs discuss the art and business of transforming traditional home food to the restaurant table. Join them in an exciting, engaging conversation about the prospects, challenges and successes that lie before them. Panelists include Amy Besa of Purple Yam, Kelly DeGala of Va de Vi Cookbook, Margarita Araneta Fores of Cibo and Pepata in Metro-Manila, Jon Guanzon of Bistro Luneta, Tim Luym of Attic, and Jay-Ar Isagani Pugao of No Worries. Writer, editor and serious home cook, Renato Ciria-Cruz, moderates.

       Afterward, taste the chefs’ specialties at an intimate reception: Empanadas, Surf-n-Turf Kinilaw, Soy "Chicken" Afritada and Pork Belly Adobo. Pair these tastes from cutting-edge chefs with a selection of fine red and white wines from California and Europe. Heirloom rice provided by Eighth Wonder and special chocolate confections by Marti Chocolatt.
Capacity: 80
$40 general admission, $30 students. Online ticket sales end May 12!
[buy now]


Discounted Weekend Rate


Sat May 15 & Sun May 16  * * * SOLD OUT! * * *
     A limited number of all-symposium passes will allow access to all events plus the private VIP chocolate merienda tasting with speakers and sponsors.

Limit: 16
Registration fee: $180 per person $30+ savings) [buy now] * * SOLD OUT! * *


(Wed May 12 is the last day to buy tickets!)


AMY BESA and her husband, Romy Dorotan, own and operate Purple Yam, a popular restaurant they opened in Brooklyn in 2009 following their successful ownership of Cendrillon in 1995. They believe strongly in the vital need to connect the academic community to practitioners in the food world and to highlight the local ingredients that shape the cooking of the Philippines. For their sumptuously photographed and definitively researched cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006), they spent years tracing food traditions and documenting recipes, ingredients and culinary techniques in their native land. Memories of Philippine Kitchens won the Jane Grigson Award in 2007, given by International Assocation of Culinary Professionals for distinguished scholarship in the quality of a cookbook’s research and presentation.
OSCAR BERMEO is the author of the poetry chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest and Heaven Below. Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, he now makes his home in Oakland with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes. Oscar was the founding curator/host of the Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase, and a founding curator/host of the synonymUS Collaborative Open Mic at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Oscar has been a featured writer at a variety of venues and institutions including the Bowery Poetry Club, Intersection for the Arts, Kearny Street Workshop, Bronx Academy of Letters, Rikers Island Penitentiary, San Quentin Prison, the Loft Literary Center, Sacramento Poetry Center, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UNC Chapel Hill, NYU and many others.
CATHERINE CENIZA CHOY, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches courses on Asian American and Filipino American history.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History, which was co-published by Duke University Press and Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2003.  She is working on two book projects on the history of Asian international adoption in the United States and on Filipino American women's biographies.
RENE CIRIA-CRUZ is associate editor at California Lawyer Magazine in San Francisco. He has edited and reported for New America Media/Pacific News Service, Filipinas Magazine, and Katipunan Newsmagazine. His articles have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Examiner, The Oakland Tribune, Alternet, and the National Catholic Reporter. He was a racial justice fellow with the Institute for Justice in Journalism at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism.
KELLY DEGALA has received considerable acclaim as the innovative chef of Bay Area restaurants that include Ono Maze and Va de Vi in Walnut Creek, and chef/partner of Pres a Vi, in the Presidio, San Francisco. As opening chef of Va de Vi, in Walnut Creek, he designed an international small plates menu that created one of the East Bay’s most successful restaurants. Listed by Michael Bauer, of the San Francisco Chronicle, as one of 2005 Top Ten New Restaurants, it has also made the coveted Top 100 Restaurants each year since. In addition, Diablo magazine has named Va de Vi, annually, as one of The Best Seven Restaurants in the East Bay. Degala has recently left his affiliation with VDV and PAV and is enthusiastically looking forward to his next project. Enthusiasts may find Degala’s most sought-after recipes in The Va de Vi Cook Book, available through fine booksellers.

LIZELLE FESTEJO is the Assistant Director/Program Manager and Job Readiness Instructor at The Bread Project, a culinary and commercial baking job training program based in the East Bay. She was an organizer of Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity's (FACES) first Kain'Na Cooking School fundraiser and also a 2008 Fellow for Robert Mondavi Winery's Taste3. Lizelle consults for the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon organized by As a writer and community worker, her passion is fueled by bringing communities and families together through the multi-faceted and inter-generational powers of cooking, eating and food itself.  

MARGARITA ARANETA FORES studied fashion and cooking in Italy. Her studies have flavored her principal businesses – Cibo, a fashionable modern Italian café, and Pepato, a fine dining Continental and Filipino restaurant dedicated to the memory of her gourmet grandfather. It is in her banquet catering, Forés says, that she introduces Filipino cooking and ingredients, at events ranging from state dinners in Malacañang Palace and society weddings, to intimate dinners among close friends. Her interest in local cuisine is rooted in the Ilonggo cooking of her family. She appreciates the simple, flavorful, and straightforward appeal of dishes like laswa, boiled vegetables whose flavors come from the freshness of the ingredients. This affinity for comfort food inspired Forés' Café Bola, a casual dining place decorated with memorabilia from the golden age of Filipino cinema.
JOAQUIN JAY GONZALEZ III, Ph.D., teaches Filipino American, Philippine and Asian Studies as well as international politics, public administration and research methods at the University of San Francisco's Maria Elena Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program, the Asian American Studies Program, the Asian Studies Program, the Department of Politics, and the Center for the Pacific Rim. A veteran of the Philippine People Power Revolution of 1986, Joaquin is a prolific writer and editor on Philippine and Filipino American migration, political economy, public policy, and government and development. His latest books are Filipino American Faith in Action: Immigration, Religion, and Civic Engagement (NYU Press, 2009) and Religion on the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics and Identity in New Migrant Communities (Duke University Press, 2009). He is the co-editor of Asia Pacific Perspectives and serves on the editorial board of the Asia Pacific Social Science Review.
JON GUANZON and his wife, Janet Guanzon, are the owners of Bistro Luneta, an upscale Filipino restaurant in San Mateo acclaimed for its modern interpretation of Filipino cuisine. Their mission is to promote Filipino flavors to mainstream America and elevate the cuisine to a more sophisticated level. Breaking from the family‐style tradition, Bistro Luneta recreates Filipino dishes into modern presentations, while staying true to native flavors, and pairs them with wines from around the globe. The restaurant has gotten the nod from Bay Area food critics and recently appeared in the 2010 Michelin Guide San Francisco, thus incorporating Filipino cuisine as a category for the first time. The couple's pioneering vision for a modern Philippine restaurant came into fruition in 2006 – setting the trend since and changing the Filipino restaurant scene on the west coast forever.
KEITH KAMISUGI is the Director of Communications at the Equal Justice Society, a San Francisco-based national strategy group heightening consciousness on race in the law. He is responsible for EJS’s media relations, online strategies and for developing communications coalitions and alliances. Keith’s legal and nonprofit public relations background includes consulting law firms such as Minami Tamaki LLP on PR and marketing related to class action and civil cases, the Asian Law Caucus on voter education, the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans political action committee, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. He serves on the boards of Chinese for Affirmative Action, San Francisco Japantown Foundation, Asian Law Caucus, Chinatown Community Development Center and the Nichi Bei Foundation. He was also a member of the Netroots Nation 2009 advisory board.
TIM LUYM was named a 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef and James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nominee for his creativity, skilled use of local ingredients, and thoughtful interpretations of Asian cuisines. After obtaining a degree from the California Culinary Academy, Luym’s passion for cooking led him to work with acclaimed chef Melissa Perello at Charles Nob Hill and Fifth Floor. At his three-star restaurant, Poleng Lounge, Tim brought a contemporary twist to timeless Asian dishes bred by street vendors, hawkers, and native peoples without losing sight of their cultural identity. His newest project is, Attic, a full-service restaurant slated to open during summer 2010 in San Mateo.
LUMAYA's music is powerful, driving, and infectious. They deliver a unique, refreshing sound that is simultaneously ethereal and aggressive. Lumaya's songs are marked by lead singer Olga Salamanca's haunting and forceful vocals. Whether she is singing a soft bluesy lilt or an angry brooding plea, her dynamic voice commands attention. Lumaya has played at landmark San Francisco venues such as the Great American Music Hall and they continue to captivate audiences throughout the Bay Area.
DAWN BOHULANO MABALON, Ph.D., is a third generation Pinay born in Stockton, California. She is an assistant professor of history at San Francisco State University, where she teaches courses in US history, race and ethnicity, and American foodways and food cultures. She received her B.A. in history and M.A. in Asian American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles and her Ph.D. in history from Stanford University. She is the co-author of Filipinos in Stockton (Arcadia Press, 2008). Her monograph on the Filipina/o American community in Stockton, California, Making Little Manila: Filipinas/os in Stockton, California, 1917-1972, will be published next year by Duke University Press. She is the chair emeritus and founding board member of the Little Manila Foundation, which works for the preservation and revitalization of the Little Manila Historic Site in Stockton. Her next projects include book projects which explore West Coast Filipina/o American foodways before 1965 and Filipina American women's history.
LISA SUGUITAN MELNICK’s daily life is a colorful melange of multi-cultural experience. Yes, she eats adobo with chopsticks, serves miso soup alongside pancit, and adds a touch of shoyu to the vinegar sauce for lumpia. Lisa's work has appeared in Latin Beat Magazine, Philippine News, CATESOL (California Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages), The Advocate, and Filipinas Magazine. A third-generation Filipina/Latina American, she is currently working on Ima Ni Soledad, a memoir of vignettes which present Filipino-American experience in contexts that highlight the reverence for family and generosity of spirit. Lisa shares her life with partner of 27 years, Mark, their son Ryan Akira, and Miss Jazz, a doberman mix diva dog.
RASHAAN ALEXIS MENESES, born and raised in the seismically diverse and fractured landscape of California, earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California’s Creative Writing Program. She was named a 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow and awarded  the Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction. She received her B.A. in English with a specialization in Fiction, Creative Writing from the University of California, Los Angeles. Recently, A Room of Her Own Foundation named her a Finalist for The 2009 Gift of Freedom Award and her latest short story, “Here in the States” is included in the anthology, Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults.
REGGIE NARITO is one of only 107 people in the United States and one of only 3 Filipino Americans to hold the prestigious title of Master Sommelier. A native of Alameda, California, Reggie began his career in the restaurant industry at the age of 17 and has worked in noted Bay Area restaurants such as Stars in San Francisco, Le Papillion in San Jose and the Plumed Horse in Saratoga.  He has consulted in the design of numerous beverage programs throughout the Bay Area.  He is currently Director of Training for Northern California at Southern Wine & Spirits. Reggie also sits on the Board of Directors for the Guild of Sommeliers. He resides in San Jose with his wife, Kim, and their 3 children.
ALEX ORQUIZA is a Fullbright Scholar and a doctoral candidate in history at the John Hopkins University. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex received his B.A. from University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in history and classics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He then went on to study at the French Culinary Institute and worked in catering before returning to academia. Alex is currently researching how the Spanish-American War and the American Period in the Philippines influenced the transfer of foods and cuisines between the United States and Southeast Asia.
JAY-AR ISAGANI PUGAO is the chef-owner of No Worries Catering, a company that fully supports the vegan/vegetarian diet. Born out of Oakland, the company started off as a 1998 Oakland High School business proposal. After being awarded with a small grant, NWC made its way from the smallest parties to the large-scale event, and in June 2010, will launch as a new restaurant in downtown Oakland. A food lover and a vegan for 13 years, Jay-Ar’s unique palette, style and bold experimentation help to evolve No Worries Catering and keep Filipino vegetarian cooking one of the most innovative menu options in the nation.
RON QUESADA is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in Filipino music from North to South, including gongs, bamboo, and stringed instruments.  His current project, “Kulintronica,” features the traditional gong instrument of Mindanao with contemporary electronic dance music. As a member of the Haranistas de Manila he has performed in over twenty Pilipino Cultural Night productions, and as a member of Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble he has performed from Toronto to Acapulco. Ron aspires to bring the art of kulintang playing to the global world music community. A musician since the age of eight, he has studied and performed the many beautiful and rich musical forms of the Philippines; from the interlocking bamboo buzzes of the Northern mountains, to the boisterous rondalla ensembles of the lowlands, to the complicated fine art of kulintang playing of the Southern Philippines.
BARBARA JANE REYES was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.F.A. at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her third book, entitled Diwata, will be released by BOA Editions, Ltd. in September, 2010. Her poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in Latino Poetry Review, New American Writing, North American Review, Notre Dame Review,  and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. She has taught Creative Writing at Mills College, and Philippine Studies at University of San Francisco. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland.
AILEEN SUZARA Aileen Suzara is a second generation Pinay raised in California and Hawai'i who began exploring the kitchen at childhood. Her passion for social justice led her to the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity and positions as an environmental educator. Aileen now brings that commitment towards sustaining the recipes and rituals of Filipino foodways. Her words appear in Earth Island Journal, The Colors of Nature, Growing Up Filipino, and others. Aileen received a BA from Mount Holyoke College and recently graduated as a Natural Chef from Bauman College.
AIMEE SUZARA completed her M.F.A. at Mills College in 2005 and has been sharing poetic and multidisciplinary work since 1999. Her play, Pagbabalik (Return) in 2007 was selected for several festivals and granted the Zellerbach Community Arts Fund in 2006-7. Her poetry collection, the space between, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008, and her writing appears in several journals and anthologies, including Check the Rhyme, An Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees (Lit Noire Press), 580 Split (forthcoming issue) and Walang Hiya/No Shame (forthcoming anthology). Currently, she is collaborating on text-dance works with two companies: Amara Tabor-Smith’s Deep Waters Dance Theater for “Our Daily Bread”; and choreographer Frances Sedayao, Aimee Espiritu and Michael Torres for “A History of the Body,” to be hosted by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. A passionate advocate for arts and literacy, she teaches English at community colleges and leads workshops on poetry and performance.
TONET TIBAY, chocolatier and owner of Marti Chocolate, discovered her true calling for this sweet venture after studying at l’Ecole Lenôtre in Paris from 2004-2005. Under the instruction of Thierry Atlan and apprenticing at the world-renowned Lenôtre, she studied the centuries-old French tradition to make chocolate. In 2006, Tonet, who holds an M.B.A. in Business Accounting & Finance, left 15 years of corporate finance to fulfill her chocolate endeavors. It is her pragmatic business style and artistic proclivities which give Marti Chocolatt a unique personal taste, one that fuses traditional French techniques with ingredients from the Philippines.
BENITO VERGARA, JR., Ph.D., is the author of Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City (Temple University Press, 2009) and Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th-Century Philippines (University of the Philippines Press, 1995). Born and raised in the Philippines, he received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University and has taught Asian American Studies and Anthropology at universities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Benito also writes about movies at

YAEL VILLAFRANCA a poet and Kundiman fellow. She lives in San Francisco.


(Wed May 12 is the last for online registration.)




Thank you for a making the Asian Culinary Forum’s 2010 Symposium a huge success!  From the scholarly panels to the adobo throwdown, we hope you a great a time learning, connecting, and eating!

We will be posting news and follow-up information about the events soon, but in the meantime, congratulations to our Adobo Throwdown winners!

In the news:

KapaMEALya Dining Group Celebrates the Past and Future of Filipino Food (SF Weekly)

Twitter was responsible for the formation of KapaMEALya, which brings together diners passionate about Filipino food, a year ago. "Last year around this time, the Asian Culinary Forum held a Filipino Flavors Symposium," recounts Joanne Boston (@joanneisafoodie), one of KapaMEALya's coordinators. "Bloggers like [former SFoodie contributor] Jun Belen and Arnold Gatilao were there, and I kept seeing all these people on Twitter talking about the event. So I Tweeted, 'We're all at the same event -- let's meet up!'"