Guerrilla Street Food offers a new chapter to the storied food culture of the Philippines. With unassuming food truck beginnings, Guerrilla Street Food now operates two restaurants in St. Louis, serving inventive Filipino and Filipino-inspired food.

The casual and affordable concept begins with founders Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo. While working at former fine dining restaurant, Terrene, the chef (Brian) and his always intrigued patron (Joel) shared an appetite for culinary exploration. Discussions evolved from workshopping new dishes to opening their own restaurant that served the food that they both liked to eat. “Guerrilla Street Food is the extension of a conversation that we’ve been having for years,” explains Joel.

In 2011, they decided to take the leap and bring two new things to St. Louis: a food truck and Filipino food. The name Guerrilla Street Food is a tribute to guerrilla fighters, the underdogs with a zealous persistence and passion for their cause. “We took a big chance. We were one of the first food trucks in St. Louis, and no one was serving Filipino food at the time,” states Joel.

With Joel’s Filipino heritage combined with Brian’s culinary pedigree, Guerrilla Street Food ignited a newfound excitement for the Southeast Asian cuisine in St. Louis. “Joel defines our food’s root in the culture. I ensure that the flavors work together and everything tastes delicious. The menu honors tradition, but also allows us to define our own interpretation of Filipino food,” says Brian.

When the duo bought an old laundry van, that would eventually become GSF’s food truck, back in 2011, they started their ride to success. From Ian Froeb’s 100 Best Restaurants in St. Louis for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, people took notice of the new kind of progressive, yet approachable Filipino food hitting the streets of St. Louis. The team went on to open their first brick-and-mortar restaurant off Grand Avenue in the epicenter of St. Louis’s ethnic restaurant scene.

Filipino cuisine varies from one island or region to the next since the food adapts to what’s available around them. Guerrilla Street Food showcases the Midwest cooking mentality with everything from made-from-scratch sauces to local ingredients. The concept also embraces Midwest hospitality – a comforting and friendly atmosphere where you want to stay a while.

As the pages continue to be written, Guerrilla Street Food’s story will always be that of two friends with a passion for food and hospitality. The creative dishes are reflections of their own excitement for the Filipino culture and cuisine. “We push to learn something new every day. As we continue to explore, we hope that you’ll join us for the ride.”

JOEL CRESPO

Co-founder of Guerrilla Street Food

Joel Crespo is the co-founder and self-declared “food nerd” of Guerrilla Street Food. From his former careers as a national television production assistant to funeral service coordinator, Joel found his calling as a restauranteur with Guerrilla Street Food’s opening. His Filipino heritage is the connective thread to the concept’s culture, and his jovial demeanor sets the tone for the welcoming hospitality of the restaurant.

“Food has always intrigued me. I still remember the excitement as a kid when my mom made Pancit Palabok or Biko, a sticky rice dessert, for family get-togethers,” he explains.

After attending George Washington University to study film, he lived in Los Angeles, working on the sets of television shows such as The Drew Carey Show and TBS Superstation’s Dinner and a Movie. Upon his return to St. Louis in 2003, he connected with a childhood acquaintance turned friend, Brian Hardesty, who was working as a fine dining chef at the time.

As conversations evolved, the two friends decided to take the leap and start Guerrilla Street Food in 2011. Joel serves as an anthropologist of sorts for the concept, exploring the traditions and food cultures of the Philippines, both past and present. From takes on his family’s favorite dishes to suggestions from customers, Joel continues to read, explore and offer his ideas for the Guerrilla Street Food menu to reflect the vastness of the Filipino food culture.

BRIAN HARDESTY

Co-founder and Chef of Guerrilla Street Food

From fine dining to fast casual, Co-founder and Executive Chef of Guerrilla Street Food Brian Hardesty has experienced every facet of the restaurant industry. The 20-year chef veteran worked in some of the best St. Louis restaurants–and even had a short stint as Cardinals baseball great Albert Pujols’s private chef–before opening Guerrilla Street Food in 2011. Now as co-founder and chef, Brian identifies what he calls, “St. Louis Filipino food,” dishes that honor the cuisine, but also respect local, Midwestern ingredients.

Growing up in St. Louis, he started cooking at an early age with my mom and grandmother. “I wish that I still had my blue chef’s hat and apron from when I was 5,” he states. As a teen, Brian contributed to preparing the family meals. But with family favorites of spaghetti and pizza, his knowledge of Filipino flavors wasn’t inherent.

“Clearly, I’m not Filipino,” jokes the 6’5” blonde Hardesty. With that said, he developed a palate to identify flavors that worked through his culinary tenure. For Brian, it’s about the love of food and respect of ingredients.

After re-connecting with childhood friend and Terrene frequent diner, Joel Crespo, he started to feel the pull to open his own concept with Joel – serving the food that they both liked to eat. His fine dining training gave him the foundation of technique and knowledge of flavor profiles to offer truly exceptional Filipino and Filipino-inspired food in a casual setting. “Our goal has always been to offer food that can be accessible to all. We want to keep it as cheap as possible while preserving the integrity of our dishes,” he states.

His culinary interpretations of new Filipino food have been lauded by both food critics and Filipino chefs alike. At Guerrilla Street Food, Brian carefully cultivates a menu of both “old school,” takes on traditional dishes, and “new school,” Midwest-influenced Filipino dishes.

Joel Crespo

Proprietor

Brian Hardesty

Chef and Proprietor