San Diego-area Filipino chefs prepare for unique collaboration dinner

Filipino food has long lived in the shadow of other Asian cuisines, but a new generation of chefs are out to change that.

Leading the effort are San Diego-area Filipino chefs who are giving their decidedly American restaurants a Filipino twist. These chefs, through innovative approaches in the kitchen, are introducing Filipino flavors to new palates, juxtaposing traditional Filipino dishes like seafood sinigang (tamarind-based soup) alongside ribeye steaks and short ribs.

There’s more to Filipino food than lumpia, and that’s why four Filipino chefs are coming together Jan. 26 for “Filipino Flavor: A Collaboration Dinner,” a rare evening that will put them all in one kitchen. The gathering was spurred by a December story in the Union-Tribune and on PACIFIC that featured the chefs, all of whom are trying to incorporate Filipino cuisine into their respective menus.

The collaboration dinner’s featured chefs are Anthony Sinsay of Jsix Restaurant, Evan Cruz of Arterra Del Mar, Danilo “DJ” Tangalin of Tidal and Kristianna Zabala of Nomad Donuts.

“Each chef will represent the region of the Philippines his or her parents originate from,” organizers say. “With updated interpretations of the nostalgic flavors they were raised on, these four chefs will lovingly share their heritage, culture and food.”

Zabala, who has created donuts that incorporate traditional Filipino flavors like ube and pandan, said the cuisine’s time in the limelight is now, and it’s up to Filipino chefs to seize the moment.

“I like to introduce many things that people aren’t used to seeing, and being that Filipino cooking is part of my background, I want people to become more familiar with this cuisine for sure,” she said in the December story.

The four-course dinner, priced at $55 and sponsored by Specialty Produce, begins at 5:30 p.m. and will include a first course by Tangalin (Baguio City); a second course by Cruz (Manila); a third course by Sinsay (Laguna); and dessert by Zabala. It will be held at Jsix, 616 J St., Gaslamp Quarter.

For more information or to make a reservation, call Jsix at (619) 531-8744.