The 2022 Filipino American History Month celebration on October 1, 2022, featured Filipino foods prepared by local Filipino chefs. Merienda was served at the Islenos Museum Complex. A selection of sweets and Filipino coffee kept the crowd satisfied until dinner was served down the road at the Historic St. Bernard Courthouse where the FAHM Gala events would take place. The PLHS food committee led by Jessica Melendez-Bayuga arranged for a gala menu that featured favorite Filipino foods.
- Lumpia Shanghai – Pork-filled spring roll (Milkfish)
- Lechon Kawali- Braised and crispy fried pork belly (Milkfish)
- Mechado – Filipino-style beef stew (Milkfish)
- Chop Suey – Stir-fried vegetables with Louisiana shrimp (Kusina)
- Adobo – Chicken stewed with vinegar & soy sauce (Casian Cooks)
- Pancit Bihon – Rice noodles with chicken & vegetables (Casian Cooks)
- Bibingka – Rice cake flavored with coconut cream (Kusina)
- Ube Flan – Classic leche flan flavored by purple yam (Kusina)
- Cassava Cake – Dairy-rich cassava & coconut cake (Milkfish)
- Polvoron – Shortbread that crumbles in your mouth (Topher Cagandahan)
- Philippines Liberica Coffee – Coffee beans grown in the Philippines and roasted in New Orleans (New Orleans Coffee Imports Co.) Buy Filipino coffee.
About the Chefs
Crisitina Quackenbush was born in Malabon, Philippines, and raised on a farm in southern Indiana where her love of cooking developed. She headed to the South to expand her culinary skills, and after 25 years of learning every aspect of the restaurant industry, she opened the first Filipino restaurant in New Orleans in 2014. After four years of introducing Filipino food to the community, Milkfish closed its doors in 2017.
Quackenbush won “Best Southeast Asian Restaurant of the Year” in 2014. Her recipes have been published in many cookbooks, including The New Filipino Kitchen and Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. She’s also been featured in many food shows. An HBOMax episode of Take Out with Lisa Ling highlighted her mentorship to younger chefs in the South. Quackenbush encourages them to be true to themselves as chefs and to stay passionate about Filipino food, culture, and community.
Quackenbush continues to offer the public Filipino food and community through pop-ups and kamayan dinners. These events bring all her “food fans” together and create relationships that go beyond the meal. “People come to eat my food, and leave making connections with people,” she said. “It’s so great to witness.”
Quackenbush is the doting mother to five children and six grandchildren. Her family bonds around Filipino food. “All my kids know how to cook Filipino food. They’ve all been my biggest support throughout my culinary journey,” she said. “I’m the happiest when I get to share my Filipino food with them and my community.”
Michael Bruno credits his love for food to his Filipino and Italian heritage. Bruno was born in the Bronx and grew up in New York and Florida. In 2019, he moved to New Orleans to work as a line cook at Shaya, but lost his job when the pandemic hit.
Bruno and his partner Ruby Ruhala started Kusina, a pop-up, that regularly appears at venues like Gasa-Gasa and Miel Brewery.
“After always dreaming of cooking Filipino food for people, and seeing the need for it in the city, I decided to start Kusina,” Bruno said. “Bringing Filipino food to the mainstream is a collective effort, and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”
Bruno serves a blend of the traditional and the contemporary. His menu includes traditional pork adobo alongside recipes that add Filipino flavors to popular western foods. Bruno cooks Brussel sprouts with bagoong, a fermented shrimp paste. He makes a cheesecake that features a common Filipino desert item, ube helaya (sweet purple yam).
Read more about Bruno in the Gambit.
BJ Bioc grew up in St. Bernard where he ae Filipino daily. His passion for both Louisiana and Filipino foods let him to establish Casian Cooks, a pop-up focused on providing Filipino food with a Cajun twist.
“Cooking was always a passion for me since I was a child, my parents would always cook a different Filipino dish every single day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” Bioc said. “I would love helping my parents around the kitchen or even helping them harvest veggies in our own backyard.
Bioc’s connection to his Filipino heritage and his upbringing in “Da Parish” inform his cooking. His parents emphasized Filipino culture, but weren’t resistant to change. This is evident in Bioc’s food. He cooks traditional dishes like pancit bihon, but also innovates, mixing Filipino and Louisiana influences like in boudin lumpia.
Follow Casian Cooks on Facebook (Casian Cooks).