Serving up Filipino Food, on Film

Screen shot from the trailer for “ULAM (Main Dish)”

“ULAM (Main Dish),” a documentary about Filipino chefs and restaurants, was selected from numerous film festivals this year and closed out the Asian American International Film Festival in New York earlier this month.  The renowned Los Angeles Times food writer Jonathan Gold, who died in July, called it “a love letter to Filipino cooking in America.”

The FilAm‘s Cristina DC Pastor spoke with filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo about her documentary, which was filmed over three years. Cuerdo, who made her directorial debut with “ULAM (Main Dish),” said she wanted to give people an introduction to Filipino food, rather than a comprehensive history.

Alexandra Cuerdo, director and producer of “ULAM: Main Dish.”(Photo courtesy of Kidlat Entertainment)

“Filipino food is in the process of arriving,” declared Allie. “We got some really amazing mainstream press. Time will tell if it will last.”

She believes the sustainability of Filipino restaurants depends to a large extent on the support of the FilAm community.

“The community needs to come out to support it,” she said. “In the past a lot of questions were asked about why would we eat Filipino food in a restaurant if we can make it at home. The answer is that Filipino food lives and dies because of the community. At the end of the day it’s still all business. Support is rooted in the community. These places are for the community. It’s great that mainstream America is finally catching up but these restaurants are more than restaurants. They’re meeting places and community centers.”

Among the NYC chefs and restaurants featured are Nicole Ponseca & Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan & Amy Besa (Purple Yam), while the LA-based include Chase Valencia & Chad Valencia (LASA), and Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano, The Little Bear).

Go to The FilAm to learn about Cuerdo’s favorite dish growing up, and more about the film.

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