NextDayBetter convenes leaders of LA Filipino food movement 

SINCE its founding in 2013, NextDayBetter has been building a platform where changemakers, community leaders and innovators can assemble and share their stories.

Branded as a “creative speaker and food series for diaspora communities around the world,” NextDayBetter has expanded globally to nine cities in four countries with events that inspire communities and are action-oriented. Past events have included speakers Jose Antonio Vargas and Geena Rocero, and challenges like a hackathon in response to typhoon Haiyan or how to pave a sustainable future for San Francisco.

“It’s about unlocking the Filipino diaspora and the Filipino community,” NextDayBetter’s CEO and “chief builder” Ryan Letada told the Asian Journal back in June. “There are many ways to do that, but what we do is invite trailblazers to talk and tell the stories of how they have changed the world in one shape or form, thereby showing the community what is possible, what can be done and what great achievements they could reach by knowing other people’s stories.”

On Saturday, August 8, NextDayBetter’s Los Angeles chapter brings another event to the city, following the success of last year. This time, “Food for Thought: Filipino Tastemakers,” a focus on some of the city’s talented Filipino chefs and what needs to be done to bring Filipino cuisine to the forefront.

“With the emergence of new Filipino-owned restaurants, monthly pop-ups, and with all the coverage that’s been published on Filipino food within Los Angeles mainstream media, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to highlight the Los Angeles chefs, foodies, and restaurateurs who are making waves in the Los Angeles foodie scene,” said Krizia Medenilla, one of NextDayBetter LA’s organizers who handles marketing.

Along with Medenilla is a team of volunteers who has devoted their time to the planning of the event: Diane Romualdez (lead city curator), Mike Tinio (event planner), JP Capulong (business development), and Krystal Menez (designer).

NextDayBetter came to Los Angeles after Medenilla and Menez (who are both cousins) were introduced to Letada through a friend. From there, they were connected to more individuals who “shared the same vision to host these NextDayBetter events, specifically highlighting young, professional Filipino Americans in our Los Angeles community.”

“It’s really wonderful to be a part of a team that supports each other and understands that events like these need to happen to bridge our generation of Filipino Americans,”  Medenilla added.

With more Filipinos in the food industry receiving mainstream attention, the team had a ‘wish list’ of speakers they wanted to reach out to. Those confirmed include: Alvin Cailan, chef/owner of EggSlut, the wildly popular egg sandwich stand at Grand Central Market, and the recently opened Ramen Champ and Justin Garrido, founder of Social Products, a social enterprise that sources black rice from farmers in Mindanao.

On the “Filipino Tastemakers” panel, moderated by Samantha Duenas aka SOSUPERSAM (a DJ and style ambassador) are Charles Olalia, former executive chef of Patina who started his own pop-up series called Apostrophe and is now chef/partner at Ricebar in Downtown; Kristine de la Cruz, owner of Créme Caramel, an LA-based custard & confection dessert shop specializing in traditional baking recipes with Filipino ingredients; brothers Chad and Chase Valencia who run the much sought after, monthly pop-up series LASA Restaurant; Kathleen Reyes, paleo gourmand and blogger of TheCavery.com.

The speakers, in their own right, are contributing to the awareness and availability of Filipino food in the city, while presenting it creatively at the same time.

“Los Angeles dining game is strong. I can hit up five different ethnic markets in a 25 mile radius with access to ingredients that are hard to find in other cities. The food culture is very passionate in LA. It would have to be considering you have to drive all over the place to get to where you want to go. And drive, we do. To eat and experience and share! What’s fantastic about being creative in LA is that you’re in a city that is bursting at the seams with artists, creators, collaborators. People wanting to try the new thing or be the new thing,” de la Cruz wrote. “The beat of LA gives birth to creativity and the possibility of making dreams come true.”

“LA is the best place for any art form. Everyone is very open and accept all forms of it. In terms of food, everyone has a curious palate,” Olalia said.

And each of them will agree that the time has come for Filipino food to emerge, similar to how Thai or Korean cuisine has, given that LA has a diverse culinary landscape.

“Contributing to the diversity of LA culinary scene and being an active member of the Filipino community through food and culture,” Chase Valencia said when asked how he and LASA can make the next day better.

In addition to the speakers, the audience can expect live music, food prepared by A’postrophe, The Park’s Finest and Social Products, desserts from Créme Caramel, and an open bar with hosted wine, beer and cocktails.

NextDayBetter x Los Angeles will be held on Saturday, August 8 at The Well (1006 S. Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90015) from 5-8:30pm. To purchase tickets for Saturday’s event, please visit http://ndbla.eventbrite.com. Asian Journal readers can enjoy $5 off with the promotion code ASIANJOURNAL5, valid until Friday, August 7 at 10pm. For more information about the event and what cities NextDayBetter will be in this year, please visit www.nextdaybetter.com.

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