Chef Nokee Bucayu proud of her southern-style Silog

Chef Nokee is introducing the Filipino Silog to Kentucky. Photos courtesy of Chef Nokee

Imagine a popular Filipino egg dish given a unique Kentucky spin.

The result is Toc Bilog,  a kind of breakfast sandwich created by Chef Nokee Bucayu — her full name is Emanor Krizelli Ancayan Bucayu — a Filipina who moved to the Bluegrass State when she was 10.

Bucayu is always looking for ways to combine the culture she was born in with the culture she was raised in — and her Toc Bilog brings her Philippine and Kentucky experiences together for a breakfast sandwich that will change how you feel about mornings.  

“The Toc Bilog is fried tocino (sweet cured pork) that I make in-house, served with a garlic biscuit and a lacy egg,” the chef explained.

Tocino as a cured pork dish is usually flavored with artificial preservatives and food coloring that gives it a certain redness that gleams when fried in oil. Bucayu makes sure she does not use artificial seasoning. Filipinos love to eat it with garlic fried rice (Sinangag) and sunny side-up or scrambled egg (Itlog), with a side of Achara pickles or a condiment bowl of vinegar.

The Toc Bilog uses biscuit instead of garlic fried rice.

If Tocino meat is used, the dish is called Tosilog. Tapsilog uses Tapa or fried beef. Longsilog is when  Longganisa or sausage is the meat variation. There is also Dasilog if the preference is for Daing or fried milkfish. They are the different varieties of the Filipino Silog.

Toc Bilog is Bucayu’s “southern version of a classic Filipino Silog.” Instead of rice, she uses biscuit, which is a southern staple.

She explained, “My version is ‘bi’ for biscuit and ‘log’ for egg —and ‘bilog’ is also Tagalog for round. I love puns. I laugh at that one every day.”

Bucayu grew up in Quezon City and immigrated to the U.S. with her parents and sister at age 10.

While she was still in the Philippines — she is from the Ilocos region — she recalled cooking traditional Ilocano dishes using a lot of vegetables with her grandmother. Her passion for cooking started at a very early age, helping her Lola  make traditional snack delicacies like Ube Halaya (purple yam dessert) and rice cakes. When she arrived in Kentucky, she harked back to those dishes to remedy her homesickness.

She learned cooking basics from spending time with her grandma in the kitchen. She has been cooking quite a bit for the family before she decided to enrol in Sullivan University in Louisville for formal culinary education.

She is declared champion  in the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown with her bourbon pecan pie.  

As she learned more about Kentucky cuisine — of mostly fried chicken, green beans and corn bread —  she fell in love with merging the two food traditions in her own unique way. 

Bucayu is currently a chef with the Marigold family of brands including Marigold Catering Co. and The House of Marigold, Black-owned businesses in Louisville.

In 2022 she competed in the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, winning the dessert baking challenge with her bourbon pecan pie. She was named Best Pastry Chef by the American Culinary Federation Kentucky Chapter in 2019. 

Bucayu has served Toc Bilog to Kentuckians who find it different yet “delicious.” She is excited to bring her Filipina flair to The House of Marigold and to the state she and her family have now called home.

© The FilAm 2023

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