PH Consulate General in LA launches gastrodiplomacy program highlighting Fil-Am owned restaurants 

Philippine Consul General Edgar Badajos prepares a grilled squid dish at Gerry’s Grill in Artesia, California on Friday, April 23 as part of the Consulate General’s new “Lutong Pinoy, Lasang Pinoy Sa Los Angeles” program highlighting Filipino and Fil-Am owned food establishments.  | Photo courtesy of Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles

THE Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles is embarking on another type of diplomacy — one that shares the Philippines’ culinary traditions and the stories of Filipino and Filipino American food entrepreneurs in the region.

Dubbed “Lutong Pinoy, Lasang Pinoy Sa Los Angeles,” the Consulate General launched its gastrodiplomacy program on Friday, April 23 at Gerry’s Grill in Artesia, California.

The program will be an online campaign featuring videos about Filipino cuisine available in Southern California, Southern Nevada and Arizona, areas covered by the Consulate that are home to some 1.2 million Filipinos.

“Good Filipino food — that’s one way of actually promoting awareness of our culture…We are doing this not only to promote Filipino cuisine. We are also doing this to promote and support Filipino and Filipino American-owned businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Consul General Edgar Badajos.

Consul Dyan Kristine Pastrana, Consul General Edgar Badajos, Gerry’s Grill owner Dr. Ray Mangune, PH Department of Tourism attaché Richmond Jimenez and PH Department of Trade commissioner Eric Elnar talk about the new culinary program during a press launch on Friday, April 23.  AJPress photos

The videos, which will be released on the Consulate’s platforms every Wednesday, will include stories behind a particular dish served at the featured restaurant or how the business has adapted to the “new normal” as Southern California begins rolling back on COVID restrictions. The Consulate hopes that the series will encourage Fil-Ams and other groups to patron the businesses as they reopen for indoor dining.

The Consulate’s campaign aligns with the Philippine government’s Philippine Food and Heritage Months in April and May of this year.

“This is actually a worldwide celebration. April is what we call Filipino Food Month so all our embassies and consulates in various parts of the world are doing the same thing — promoting Filipino cuisine, our unique food traditions,” Badajos said.

The first video in the series features Gerry’s Grill, including its famous sisig and grilled squid.

“Filipino food is a true amalgamation of different foods. It’s the original fusion…all those factors you can taste in our food and you can taste in the cuisine in the Philippines.

Anything that we can do to make you feel like you’re back in the Philippines, we try to convey that here,” said Dr. Ray Mangune, owner of the Gerry’s Grill location.

The Consulate is extending an open invitation to food business owners in its territory to participate in the program, whether they are a fine dining establishment or a fast-casual restaurant. The public is invited to share their favorite Filipino restaurant or food business [email protected].

It will be held in partnership with other agencies, including the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Los Angeles. n

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