Chefs to share kitchen wisdom in culinary dialogue

King Phojanakong (left) and Perry Mamaril of Kuma Inn and Umi Nom.

From September 27 to 30, Purple Yam will open its kitchen in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park for “Culinary Dreams: Filipino-American Chefs Forum and Dinner Party,” a hybrid event where open dialogue and scrumptious dinner will have an experimental performance.

The public forum-cum-dinner party from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. will feature a bicoastal cast of seven chefs – three from the Bay Area and four from New York. Three of the Bay Area’s most successful chefs —Dominic Ainza of Mercury Restaurant & Lounge in San Francisco; Tim Luym of Attic Restaurant in San Mateo, Calif.; and Cocoy Ventura of Cocoy Ventura Culinary Services in San Francisco — will join Purple Yam owners Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa, Perry Mamaril and King Phojanakong of Umi Nom in Brooklyn and Kuma Inn in Manhattan. The chefs will prepare their signature dishes, tell real-life tales and exchange experiences about the joys, the heartbreaks and the aesthetics of bringing Philippine cuisine to the American table.

The chefs hope to “inspire cravings, generate food for thought, debate ideas, and reveal our cultural dreams,” said Nathan Award-winning editor/writer Randy Gener, who will moderate the savory conversation.

Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa of Purple Yam

“Romy and I would love to learn from the Bay Area chefs and share whatever wisdom we have acquired from running a restaurant for 18 years in New York City,” said Amy Besa. The California

Isabela-born Cocoy Ventura will serve a modern-day Filipino cuisine that embraces California’s wine-country culture. From 2005 to 2007, Ventura worked for Rubicon Estate, Francis Ford Copolla’s winery. Along with stints at Alimango and Intramuros restaurants in San Francisco, he also worked with the renowned Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, where he honed his knowledge of food and wine pairings. Ventura now owns a culinary service company and serves as chef for the family estates of Silicon Valley CEO Dado and Maria Banatao. “Having my own company allows me to be more creative and express my Filipino side in a stylized and elegant rendition,” he said.

Dominic Ainza had worked as sous chef for Poleng Lounge under the wings of Tim Luym, the executive chef. Luym and a group of investors opened the storied Poleng Lounge in 2006. The Bay Area darling received a three-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle and named one of Top 10 new restaurants of 2006. In 2007, Luym was declared a San Francisco Rising Star Chef and a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nominee. He is also behind the WoW Trucks (Windows on Wheels), which has been dishing out silog-inspired dishes to the streets and festivals in the Bay Area.

Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa will present the enticing Purple Yam entrées that have received lavish praise from The New York Times, Time Out New York and New York magazine. The couple owned and operated the Cendrillon pan-Asian restaurant in Manhattan for nearly 15 years. They published a book, “Memories of Philippine Kitchens,” in 2006 about the cooking traditions they learned growing up.

Perry Mamaril is a well-renowned bamboo master artist and light sculptor whose craftsmanship and designs parallel the inspirations of Isamu Noguchi. He will work with Dorotan to prepare Mamaril’s signature dish: chicken ‘binakol’ or baby chickens cooked in bamboo tubes.

King Phojanakong, whose culinary influences began at home with the inspirational cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father, has two restaurants under his toque — Kuma Inn in Lower East Side and Umi Nom in Brooklyn.

“Culinary Dreams” was inspired by Marleen Gorris’s film “Antonia’s Line,” said Randy. “In that film, the central image is a dinner table that grows longer as the community accepts and accommodates more people. The long table is a private party held in public, a dining room for informal conversations on serious topics with space for listening or talking or eating or sitting quietly or making statements.

The cost for “Culinary Dreams” is $50 per person on September 28. To RSVP, email Or, RSVP via The other days will charge a la carte. Purple Yam is located at 1314 Cortelyou Rd. in Brooklyn. For directions and other information, call 718-940-8188.

One Comment

  1. m. matthews wrote:

    Yes, indeed. It was good to read about Filipinos chefs from New York and the Bay Area of San Fransisco getting together for a special culinary event at Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

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