Wednesday, February 3, 2016



Bistro Filipino Book edited by Yolanda Perez Johnson, with Contributor Chef Rolando Laudico
(Soumak Collections, Inc., Manila, Philippines, 2014)

[Editor’s Note: Jeannie Yniguez’s Tribute was first presented at the Third Filipino-American International Book Festival, San Francisco, October 2015.]

Magandang Hapon sa inyong lahat. Good Afternoon to everyone! I am Jeannie Yniguez. 

I am honored to be here to represent my sister, Yolanda  Perez Johnson, the woman behind the scenes of Soumak Collections whose company mission is to promote the Philippine Arts in the context of the global landscape and to create books on Filipino Artist and Artisans.

A woman of vision and passion, “Yola,” as she is called, has tremendous respect for rare talent and artistry. She is the editor and publisher of Bistro Filipino Book. From the editor’s notes:

"Filipino Culture remains food-centered in the sense that Food is an Inspiration for Connection and an assurance of one's social standing. Food on the table is indeed every Home's pride and joy.  Artworks, depicting bounty of fruits, was a typical household fixture during the turn of the century. It was one of the many objects that represented the Filipino's reverence for food, framed by all our notions of Survival, Pleasure and Mere Adoration.”

We all had an opportunity to meet her in person last year [during the San Francisco book launch of the book. She is, indeed, an extraordinary human being.  She recognized the talent of her son "Chef Rolando Laudico" who is the subject of the Bistro Filipino Book. It is the first book ever on Filipino Fusion Food and its mission is to promote Filipino Cuisine worldwide.

"Rolando was to the kitchen Born," Yola says of her son. "He grew up smelling the aromas and flavors and hearing the sound emanating from where I was cooking. The minute he could walk and eat, Rolando can be found there where I cooked. His voracious appetite  was such that he went everywhere with me wherever there was food. And so, off Rolando went to further his education in the Culinary Institute of America as well as through working in Chambery, France with Grand Chef Michele of L'Essentiel.  He came home fresh with fervent feelings for this food and started cooking feast after feast of his discoveries and newfound recipes....degustations and pleasant surprises that will water your tastebuds to crave for more." 

Bistro Filipino, the restaurant [FB Link], is a place where new standards are set and continue to evolve—a place where Chef Rolando cooks and presents unencumbered  creations and innovations on the basic flavor and essence of Filipino Cuisine, and becomes an example to our aspiring culinary students. 

However, this book is not just about Chef Rolando. As I read the book in its entirety, I realized that Yola and the whole staff that contributed to this book has tremendous talent and artistic insights:

Book Design by Yolanda Johnson
Art Installation in the Chapter openers by Yolanda Johnson and Melissa Ramsay
Food Styling and Recipes: Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino 
Photography: At Maculangan
Graphic design and glossary illustrations: AJ Omandac
Copy Editors: Daisy Langenegger , Lourd De Veyra, Francine Medina-Marquez

There are admirable details, from the cover of the book to the interiors with stories told through the eyes and appetite Chef Rolando. THIS BOOK WAS BORN OUT OF GREAT LOVE FOR WHAT IS GOOD IN ALL OUR SENSES. It is an AWAKENING ! 

Let  me share some passages that struck me:

Page 18: “PINOY STREET FOOD is the great SOCIAL EQUALIZER. The working man fills his stomach with Street Food for its Affordability: the Middle Class perhaps digs in for the Thrill, and the "Colegialas"—meaning Convent- bred female students—savor it for all of the Sense of Liberation and "Defiance" it represents.      
This book  also talks about some historical origins of certain dishes:

Page 20: "Lumpia which was brought to the Philippines by the Chinese who were trading with Malay ancestors even before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. ‘Lumpia’ is said to have come from the Hokkien word, LUN-PIA, or spring rolls.”  

This book, also contains good humor and wit with which we can relate. My Favorite:

Page 34: “The seafood OKOY—OKOY is one of those snacks that you usually end up eating obscene amounts of because of one ingredient: SHRIMP. Unfortunately, since shrimp isn't exactly cheap, you usually get one small piece only after three or four bites of this dish. And once you get TO BITE THAT ELUSIVE SHRIMP, you just can’t help but crave for more. By the time you get your SHRIMP FIX, you've probably taken in ten or more pieces of OKOY,  and you end up still craving for more…”

It's hard to contain yourself when reading this book, It will make you Smile and Reminisce about the Past because of its numerous stimulating ideas and flavors. This book is definitely TALKING  BACK  to me.............. I love it!  

Yola has become an advocate for the beauty of our Filipino Culture  and Talents, spreading the word to as many people as possible. This book is a MEDIUM.  Its recipes are Not Cast in Stone; the recipes should be springboards all who Love to Cook. The recipes are open to INTERPRETATION & EXPERIMENTATION, and are EXPRESSIONS, COLLABORATIONS  and NURTURE APPETITES.  We can all be Masters of our Kitchen and Our Own Tables! 
I am sure Chef Rolando would be proud to see that happen!  He is a very Giving Person! 

To all the Chefs and those "WHO COOK OUTSIDE THE BOOK," I believe Bistro Filipino   was written and published for all of us. It is a journey that I invite you to read and enjoy; it's well worth the experience! 

I encourage you to own this wonderful Coffee Book and give it also as a Present to Share and Spread to the World that Filipino Cuisine is something WE CAN ALL BE PROUD OF!  

Salamat Po! 


Virgina ' Jeannie'  Yniguez, Alumnus of St. Theresa's College, Manila. Married to Alfredo R.Yniguez -EVP /COO for Camp John Hay Development Corp. Lived in Southern California for 30 years with 4 accomplished children. Relocated to Philippines’ Camp John Hay, Baguio City in late 2009. Founder of the organization called 'Art Blessing Baguio Inc.' which is dedicated to promoting the importance of Arts. She also supports 'Share a Joy', a local charity foundation that sponsors Christmas Programs for children, ages 3-5, of Indigent families during the Holiday season in Baguio City. Besides her passion for Charity work, Visual arts, Fashion, Interior Design and Performing Arts, she produced (2) Ballet Performances by World Renowned Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde and Ballet Manila, which where both held at the CAP-John Hay Cultural Center: 'Crystal Gala' 2010, 'Encore Ballet Manila' featuring the Orchestra of Saint Louie University and Brent International School, Baguio City year 2011. 

1 comment:

  1. I photographed a fundraising conference here recently. What a wonderful place for photos. I almost always hate being anywhere at 6am, but this breakfast event proved an exception. The manger and his staff at this event space were extremely professional.