Earlier this year, Joel and I got to visit the Philippines. It was Joel’s first visit in 30 years and it was my first. The trip was incredible. Every where we visited provided a new perspective on the cuisine we have worked so hard to bring to St. Louis. The history and circumstance behind certain dishes. The different nuances of a dish depending on what region you are eating it in. Simply fascinating. In the end, it made both of us want to stay longer and come back to visit again very soon. We managed to make it to a handful of great locales including Cebu, Tagaytay, Cabiao, Manila, Pampanga, and Batangas. We saw mountains, lakes, volcanos, beaches, and the largest cityscapes we had ever experienced. Every chance that came our way, we were popping our heads into a shop to taste something new or walking down an alley to meet a seasoned Lechon chef and help get the evening’s pig roasting over the fire. Two weeks was just not enough time.
One thing that has stayed with the both of us since our visit is the fresh, open air markets. They are gathering places to visit friends and pick up the day’s essentials. The market is the place to go to get a seemingly endless variety of mostly local fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. Packed with so many people, you think that you would see the 5 foot high stacks of ingredients dwindle over the course of the day but you don’t. Hundreds of varieties of fish from all over the region, displayed in the open air for all to come and inspect. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Not only could you get the best of the freshest ingredients and as much of those as you could carry, but also you got to be a part of the vibe. We would stop abruptly and ask a coconut juice vendor to crack open a fresh, young, coconut so we could drink and then scoop out the tender flesh.
The eye opening experience of finding your way through the maze of food stands and people shopping prompted us to join the crowd, and get what we were looking for. You would run into people hustling treats to munch on as you shopped. Muffled music playing in the background off in some corner of the market. The excitement of knowing you found the perfect items and making your way out of the controlled chaos and back to your car or bike or walk home. The feeling was almost indescribable.
So, of course once we returned from the Philippines, we wondered if it was possible to recreate even a little bit of that feeling. Joel and I have been working hard over the past year trying to bring together as much talent from the Philippines as we can find. Our Guerrilla Alliance pop ups have always been about introducing Filipino food and culture to as many people as possible. We have been doing what we can to represent our unique interpretation of the food we love so much and introduce our fans to other chefs who love Filipino food as much as we do.
To that end, we decided to attempt the first Filipino night market in St. Louis. Luckily, while in the Philippines we met with the most welcoming and knowledgeable people we could have met. Natalia Roxas of Filipino Kitchen was kind enough to guide us through Manila on the first leg of our trip. While hanging out with Natalia, we met Chef Sharwin Tee. An immensely talented Chef who just so happens to star in his own television show “Curiosity got the Chef” on the Lifestyle Network in the Philippines. With Joel and I in tow, Natalia and Sharwin took us on an educational food journey of what experiencing Manila could be like through the eyes of the experts. We are lucky to be able to feature both Filipino Kitchen (Sarahlynn Pablo and Natalia Roxas) and Chef Sharwin Tee as our star chefs at the very first Guerrilla Night Market.
We hope you will join us the evening of September 30th 5-9pm at the Midtown Farmers Market located at 6655 Delmar blvd, as we spotlight Filipino food and culture as seen through the eyes of these amazing guests, as well as, local farmers such as Double Star farms, Such N’ Such farms, Root and Holler, Dave Mikus, Geisert farms and more.The evening will also highlight Filipino martial arts demos by Garimot Arnis Training, artists, musicians, and many more. We will have Balut for sale, a made to order Pancit station featuring Filipino Kitchen’s highlighted dish, Halo Halo, Taho, and of course, our Old School menu will be available from our food truck. The event is free to attend, and all food and farmer products can be purchased separately. All proceeds will benefit a great cause – Chef Sharwin’s Ahon Foundation to build a public school library in Davao, Philippines!
The Guerrilla Alliance series was created to foster solidarity in the Filipino food & culture community in St. Louis and beyond, as well as highlight the many perspectives of Filipino culture through our cuisine, celebrations and collaborations. These events showcase the talents of accomplished chefs for unique dinners and events, exploring different traditions and in addition, expose St. Louisans to Filipino culture.