Filipino Palate from Chef Francis
Though I never had formal training in culinary school, food has always been a passion of mine. I’ve been in the service industry since the age of 14 – started out as a dishwasher, busboy, server, and eventually started bartending & club promotion. Currently, I’m the head bartender & lead server at Tsurutontan Udon Noodle Brasserie in Manhattan.
Through trial and error and multiple (failed) experiments, I always blindly tried to recreate certain foods that I liked. I eventually had the amazing opportunity to do so when I opened a restaurant in Manila called Burgers & Brewskies. It was a really fun venture as I was able to create unorthodox and playful dishes. Bringing NY swagger, rustic decor, and great customer service, I tried to present something new to the table that could revolutionize the service industry in Manila. I’ve also been a firm believer in supporting local products & produce and tried to feature them as much as I could.
Despite the restaurant’s closure after a few years, I was not hindered. In fact, it has actually driven me to pursue even more experimental cooking. With the help of my wife, who is the best support system anyone could ever ask for, and some of the most amazing people back in Manila whom have guided, motivated, written about, and mentored me along the way, I’ve been able to test some crazy new ideas. These wonderful people have done nothing but support me with no questions asked and I’m extremely grateful.
Ultimately, I want to proudly showcase and pay homage to the multicultural roots of Filipino culture and cuisine. To be able to show that it can be done elegantly, while simplifying ingredients and techniques to create dishes that still brings people back to their childhood with every bite. Nostalgia. It’s a powerful thing.
Thanks to Tsismis NYC, I have been able to host successful pop-ups that push the boundaries of Filipino cuisine, drawing inspiration from dishes indigenous to my wife’s hometown of Tacloban. “No borders cuisine” is what my friends & I call it. To be bold with using new ingredients and techniques. To be unrestricted by tradition. To make people comfortable with uncomfortable.
Cooking is always evolving. Great food is borne out of accidents and necessity. Out of the box. Innovative. Experimental. That is the way I approach anything I do now... one plate at a time.
Chef Francis Balbarin & Isabel Ng
Kilawin - tanigue (spanish mackerel) & swai, ginger, shallots, tomatoes, calamansi & coconut vinaigrette