This Pinay makes the French fall for Filipino cuisine



About three years ago, Filipino chef Erica Paredes boldly presented boodle fights to Parisians. At her private dinners, she served her signature cuisine, with her own unique flavor modifications, in the People’s Army. kamayan style. Europeans warmly welcomed this unique culinary experience. The guests felt more relaxed and open. And suffice to say that they liked the food too.

It was around this time that Erica, trained at Cordon Bleu, realized that it was not difficult to impress the French palate with Filipino flavors.

While she has had to suspend boodle fights because of the pandemic – this communal style of food consumption doesn’t exactly respect Covid safety and restrictions – Erica continues to serve her own version of Filipino food in Paris. Recently, Vanity Show France introduced the rising cooking star (we discovered her via her father Jim Paredes’ Instagram) as she will be showcasing her versions of her home country cuisine at Mokoloco on rue de Charonne, in Paris, until November. The must-try sandwich cafe is owned by Japanese pastry chef Moko Hirayama and Lebanese chef Omar Koreitem, two names well respected on the Parisian culinary scene.

The Pinoy menu

Hirayama and Koreitem traditionally invite chefs to present their cuisine to Mokoloco for three to six months, and now it’s Erica’s turn. “Basically, it’s my home until the end of November and my menu will change depending on the products available”, explains the chef at ANCX.

It’s been over a week since she started offering her Pinoy menu at the restaurant and things are going well so far. “People love my food, which I am very happy with. “

Crispy Hainan Fried Chicken

VF’s story called its food “one of the few pleasures of last winter” in Covid-era Paris, denoting its “golden fried chicken like ingots,” writer Constance said. Dovergne. “The ultimate comforting dish spent twice in an oil bath and then in devilish marinades with Pan-Asian influences, honey / sriracha, adobo or hainan.â€

What else on his menu? According to VF, “a dozen dishes with Filipino influences flirt with local products: green beans, bagoong (shrimp paste), crispy onions, mint and chili; white tuna marinated in coconut vinegar, passion fruit, pomegranate and chili; Sirloin steak, spicy palapa sauce, turmeric rice.

Not to be missed, according to the story, are the crispy chicken wings, which is one of its specialties, the kare-kare and the calamansi cheesecake which “functioned like the iconic ‘tarta de queso’ that one eats in the streets of San Sebastián, in the Spanish Basque country.

Erica Paredes' eggplant kare kare
Vegan roasted eggplant kare-kare

Erica says she tries to use fresh, seasonal produce as much as possible in her dishes. “Everything is made from scratch. I also try to add more veg to my menu which I know is not typical of high meat Pinoy food.

The kare-kare Vanity Fair mentions that it is actually “vegan roasted eggplant kare-kare”. Erica says she will also serve a pork barbecue at Mokoloco with passion fruit and fennel frosting. atchara, beef rib eye Maranao rendang style, burrata with hainan sauces (“think of chicken rice sauces on a creamy burrataâ€), ginataang but rice pudding with coconut caramel and toasted buckwheat.

Erica Paredes marinated mackarel, ensaladang nectarine
Marinated mackarel, ensaladang nectarine

She also has her own version of longanisa hamburger– “Filipino-style sweet garlic pork patty, Tallegio cheese, onion jam, gochujang yogurt salad and homemade bun.

Erica Paredes longanisa burger
Longanisa burger

Childhood influences

His menu inspirations come from personal childhood memories and travels, as well as his life and work in France. “Honestly sometimes things come to my mind and it rings good in my mind so I see if there is a way to run it right in a restaurant,†she told ANCX. .

Did she find it difficult to introduce Filipino cuisine to the European palate? “I mean yes and no,†she said. “No, because more than half of the population does not know Filipino cuisine. It gets a little easier because it’s something new and fresh. But it is also difficult for the same reason. She has heard people say several times that “Filipino food is not that good”. But that only makes the Pinay boss more determined to prove opponents wrong. “Most of the time, these are people who have probably eaten in the wrong place, just like tourists who come to France.

If some believe that Erica started quite late in her culinary career, it is, she admits, to some extent true. But her interest in food and cooking started long before she was even 10 years old. “I wasn’t very good at researching recipes, but I loved poking around in my mom’s pantry and fridge to see what I could create from what I could find,†he said. she declared. Overview in a 2019 interview. She even remembers making pineapple jam and selling it to her own grandmother.

She started taking cooking a little more seriously when she left her parents’ house and began living independently at the age of 22. When her then roommate, who was cooking, moved in, Erica had to intervene. “It really became a choice between having instant ramen and learning how to sauté certain ingredients together,†she shared in the same interview.

A total change of scenery

Five years ago, Erica decided to uproot herself – to leave a career as a beauty editor, lifestyle editor, makeup artist and media / event consultant to pursue a culinary career in Paris. She needed a change of atmosphere and finally relaunch the second career that she always put on hold. “A lot of personal conflicts were going on at the time and let’s just say it was about time,” she told ANCX.

She studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris for a year and has since worked in French restaurants before starting to offer private and open dining through a company she called Baguettes et Bérets. In recent years, his life has revolved around school, internships, work, private dinners, pop-ups, and residences. The funniest part was that she traveled, spent time with family and friends, and ate a lot.

Parisian life

“Life is definitely not ‘Emily in Paris’,†she told ANCX when asked what life was like for her in the City of Lights. “It’s like any big city with its advantages and disadvantages. You have to be smart and learn to fend for yourself, especially with the hours that I keep. ”

His current residence is a two-bedroom apartment overlooking a castle. She moved to a neighborhood just outside Paris about a year ago. “It’s still on the metro line so very close and convenient but very safe and relaxed when I get home. It’s east of the Right Bank, near most of my work in the 11th arrondissement.

Work has radically changed her routines, as has Parisian life. “First, the hours are crazy! I am at the restaurant at 8:30 am and I come home after midnight, â€she shares. “My wardrobe has adapted very well not only to my current job, but also to Paris in general. People here are not very sighted or demanding attention, which is fine with me.

By the way, her work outfit is usually a cotton t-shirt with a punk or rock and roll print. “I hate chef’s jackets! ” she says. “I mean depend on its lugar. If I have to [wear one], sure, but a lot of cooks are pretty laid back these days, here at least!

With her busy schedule, Erica only sees friends and family on her days off. “I constantly smell the food,†she says. “My old job was to dress up and show up to events and honestly, I thought I was tired back then, but now it feels like a vacation.” She sums up her life in four words: cook, sleep, eat, repeat.

But she’s not complaining. When asked if she intends to pursue her culinary career at home in the Philippines, she replied that she did not anticipate that to happen anytime soon, especially since she will be opening a restaurant in Paris year round. next. And maybe because life in the City of Love has been such a rewarding experience for her.

We ask Erica what she can say to the younger ones who dream of pursuing the same career, of living an independent life. His response: “Be authentic and focus more on creating than competing. Plus, messing up everything is part of growing and learning, so get over it quickly and do better next time, â€she says. “Finally, never stop learning from everyone you work with. Everyone has something new to teach you.


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