3 Filipina chefs are a sensation at the NYC Wine & Food Festival  

Diana Manalang of Little Chef Little Café in Long Island City. Photos by Lindy Rosales

By Lindy Rosales

Filipino representation was alive and well at the New York City Wine & Food Festival from October 12 to 15 where the epicurean and the adventurous eaters shared a space and had fine conversations.

In one segment of the festival titled, Spritz Society’s Disco and Drinks, three Filipino American chefs presented their food creations at the Harbor NYC Rooftop.  

Augelyn Francisco, owner of Kabisera, a Lower East Side coffee shop, served her Seafood Maki. The dish is Tinapa (smoked milk fish) in Adobo rice maki roll. She, and two assistants, prepared rolls good for 700 people. This is the second time Augelyn was asked to participate in this invitation-only event.

“Nag prepare na ako ahead of time. Kasi alam ko pag nakapasok na lahat ng tao, babalik-balik  pa yan sila, pag natikman ang pagkain mo,” she said.  

And as fast as they served new portions of Seafood Maki, the table would be empty again. Augelyn is the co-founder of Philippines Fest, a street festival where chefs and entrepreneurs sell their food items and drinks. She has been organizing all-day fairs, one  in Times Square and a two-day fest in Atlanta, Georgia. Her Kabisera will be opening a new location in Gotham West Market on November 15. 

Chef and baker Kimberly Camara of Kora said it is her first time to participate in the Wine & Food Festival. She lost her job during the pandemic and started making donuts  out of her Woodside apartment. The donuts are pre-ordered and picked up on certain days. She received an invitation from NYCWFF, exchanged information with the organizers, and agreed to participate in the festival.

Kabisera’s Augelyn Francisco

However she is no stranger to this event. Kimberly said she used to volunteer at the festival when she was in high school.

“It’s super cool. I’ve been to the events previously so I knew what I was going into. But it’s definitely such as honor,” she said.

Kora is known for its Filipino-inspired donuts but Kimberly wanted to showcase something different. For the festival, she proudly presented  her signature crème puff called Passion and Pride Choux, made of choux au craquelin, passionfruit curd, and whipped Auro 32% chocolate chantilly..

Auro Chocolates reached out to Kora very early on when their business started. Their first collaboration was for a Valentine’s Day event a year and a half ago. Then Kimberly and co-founder Kevin Borja went to Davao City to see how Auro Chocolates are grown and met the farmers who are growing the cacao beans and actually produce the chocolates.

“It was such an amazing experience. So we officially became an ambassador for Auro Chocolates, just a few months ago,” she said.

Kimberly Camara of Kora

On their display table were samples of white, milk and dark chocolates for guests to sample and savor. Kora products can be ordered through their website and picked up in Woodside, Queens. 

Chef Diana Manalang was a first-timer to the festival. She was invited to participate in this event as owner of Little Chef Little Cafe. Manalang showcased her Chicken Adobo Tostadas (like a flat Taco). The dish of corn tostadas is topped with garlic rice, chicken adobo and pickled cucumber. The dainty morsel can be eaten in one bite. But one bite is never enough as people just kept coming back for more. 

“It’s really an honor and it’s super exciting. Yeah, this is great,” Diana gushed.

Asked why she choose Chicken Adobo, she said, “Well, because I am Filipino American. It’s very important for me to represent my culture and my flavors. You know it’s my mother’s recipe made better by me, of course. It’s something that’s familiar and also new to some people, and also very delicious”.

In Diana’s restaurant  called Little Chef Little Café in Long Island City, Adobo is one of the staple dishes on the menu.

© The FilAm 2023

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