Monday, November 3, 2014

My Purple Yam Stint

5 weeks.

That's how long I took off for my recent vacation in the Philippines.  I sit here quietly reminiscing - and the first things that come to mind include two significant cooking gigs during my visit.

First off - my stint as a guest chef at Purple Yam Malate.  And second, my gig Let's Meat Up, an initiative by Meat Livestock Australia wherein I shared my recipes to a group of bloggers and the media.  I'll share more details of the latter gig in a future post.

Now I can hardly sit still.  Thoughts start to flood my mind every time I attempt to write. I have a hangover.  Well, from my vacation rather than from alcohol.  But today I shed off the sluggishness, the headache and the thirst - I say to myself:  HEY GIRL, BACK TO REALITY.. TIME TO WORK!

One of the biggest achievements in my culinary career is to be invited as a guest chef by world-renowned Filipino Food advocate Ms. AMY BESA.  You see in my book, Amy is the hottest name globally in promoting Filipino food.  Together with her husband Romy Dorotan, they brought Filipino food to the mainstream in New York city when they opened the highly acclaimed Cendrillion.  They then moved to Brooklyn to open Purple Yam.

Now for a flashback (insert music and animation here): Last year, I got an invite from Ms. Amy to meet up with her while we were both visiting Manila.  I couldn't believe it! She mentioned to me that she will be opening Purple Yam in her ancestral home in Malate.  "I would love for you to come and cook once we open" she said.  Did she just say I could come cook with her?  Well yes she did.

So let's fast forward to this year.  Days before my trip I couldn't decide whether to go home, but alas a private message from Amy Besa was the voice of reason.  So after a few days, I found myself packing my bags and went for a 5 week vacation.

On the last week of my stay, surreal as it may seem, I was briefing the  Purple Yam team. Imagine my excitement because one, I will be cooking at PURPLE YAM, and second, I will be showcasing the cuisine of  Tuguegarao, my hometown.  Indeed, preparing Ibanag cuisine is very special to me.

To feature Ibanag Cuisine, I named the dining experience Pabirillayan or sharing (the love for Ibanag Cuisine).  The food I shared is close to my heart.  It is the food of my childhood - the food of my soul.

Thank you Amy for giving me this opportunity.  It warms my heart to know that someone who is way up there in the culinary field treats me so special.  Thank you for giving me the confidence to "just do it".

Thank you especially to the Purple Yam team and my brother-in-law for your help with the recipe development and execution... And a special shout out to my new found friend Chef Cocoy Ventura.   Cocoy brought fresh vegetables all the way from Isabela despite the rainy conditions and helped out prepping for the event.  Thank you Mama Isi and Nangnang for procuring the freshest ingredients  that I took with me to Purple Yam.

Lastly, thank you to all my family and friends who attended the special lunch I served last Oct. 18th.  You continuously support me in so many ways.  I could not have done this without you.

I'm so grateful, I'm so happy that I am close to tears.

Here are the photos I'd like to share with all of you... Enjoy!

Briefing the team with what Ibanag Cuisine is all about

I could have not done it without collaborating with these young and very talented PY team.  Also included in the team is my brother in law Oliver, who helped me conceptualize the menu

The Purple Yam team: Chefs Joesph, Patricia and Rap  Also included here is Chef Cocoy Ventura who came all the way from Isabela, and of course Ms. Amy Besa

So grateful to see old friends from childhood and college 

Celebrities in the house!

My daughter Izzy, who was with me throughout my trip home ---thanks Izzy.  And my sister in law Donna and Oliver's family, who unselfishly hosted us during our stay... 

My nephew Enzo with his girlfriend Eenah and my pretty niece Ayi, and again my lovely daughter Izzy

Chef Cocoy enjoying the food.

My brother Paul and wife Sigrid cuing up to get Amy sign her cookbook.

Sinanta: a combination of flat noodles and glass noodles with Cagayan river clams, chicken and shrimp with crustacean broth

Fried Fillet of Catfish with Dinengdeng Puree

Amy's dedication on her book Memories of Philippine Kitchens, which reads: Dearest Malou, As I've said I am a fan.  What a delicious meal you cooked at our home in Nakpil.  You are a goddess of Philippine food and culture.  I'm stoked.  I am truly your biggest fan.


  1. Congratulations for bringing Ibanag cuisine to the Purple Yam table. That is a great achievement wabi

    Lourdes Talamayan

    1. Hi Lourdes,
      Indeed it was a great honor. I am grateful that Amy gave me the chance to do so. Welcome to Skip to Malou <3

  2. Malou, congratulations! What a lovely experience to cook at Purple Yam Malate. Personally, Amy is my 'sister' here in the States and has been my rock and support for as long as I can remember. I agree she is inspiring. And so are you. I'm thrilled to see you in these photos. The Besa home in Malate holds a lot of dear family memories for me. Like I said, this makes you my honorary cousin. All the best to you and your coming projects. See you soon, amiga. Hugs and be well.


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