Pepe’s Kitchen is about more than just food, it is about how I make you feel and the whole experience, taking you to a place that makes you feel warm and happy, just like my family home, I want to transport you to the Philippines through my food and dining experiences.
I began as a catering company serving Philippine inspired canapes in 2011, then after seeing what was happening in New York on the foodie scene, I launched the first Filipino supperclub in the UK in 2013 in New cross. Since then, there have been regular supperclubs in my home in Marylebone, residencies in Soho and Portobello Rd and pop ups in Paddington, Old St, Shoreditch and Warren St.
In 2016, I even cooked on national TV with Mary Berry, which was an amazing experience! I regularly host private supperclubs, catering and cooking classes too. I cater for all sorts! Including for 200 people for a BBC charity event, 2 separate hen parties! Complete with a butler in the buff, numerous diners wanting to show Filipino food to their non-Filipino friends, family, or other half as well as non-Filipino diners wanting to provide an authentic Filipino experience for their Filipino friends, family, or other half! I’ve also had quite a few companies planning an alternative team night out, launches for new products and private industry events.
Jose ‘Pepe’ Magnaye was my father, he taught me how to cook and raised me in the Philippines while my mother was inthe UK working. After his death in 2011, I wanted to do something in his name and create a legacy, ultimately helping me in the grieving process as Papa was such a big influence in my life.
I spent the first 14 years of my life in the Philippines, I was born in Manila, moving to Quezon and Batangas (where my papa is from) before settling in Leyte (where my mama is from). I came to the UK in Kent to join my mama and finish my education. I eventually moved to London and settled down and started a family. Food is in the blood of every Filipino and cooking with my papa is one of my happiest memories. The most important element to my food, is my memory. The memories of the way food is prepared, how it looks and tastes in the Philippines. The key for me is taking those memories and those authentic
Filipino ingredients and techniques and bringing them to the UK with my home-cooked traditional Filipino Food. What I try to do is showcase as much of our diversity as I can. Being both from Luzon and Visayas, I am keen to explore and share not only food from these regions, but also from the biggest Island group; Mindanao.
What is Filipino Food
Filipino food, like our history, is a complex story full of diversity. I have heard it described as the first ‘Fusion Food’. I do not agree with this! Filipino food is Filipino food not fusion food. The waves of migration and colonisation from the Malays, to the Indians and Chinese traders, through 300 years of Spanish rule coupled with Mexican and South American trading to the final 50 years of American rule have all influenced what is now Filipino Food. With each wave, people settled, brought their food and recipes and replicated them using local ingredients. With 7,000 islands and over 100 dialects, each community then created their own variations of dishes local to them. I like to say this process is called evolution, not fusion. Like our people who are a vision of diversity, Filipino food is a taste of diversity. Each region has a flavour, with more spices and beef used in Mindanao, more coconut and lechon in the Visayas and there is so much diversity in Luzon, with 8 of the 16 national regions in this island group alone; Bicolanos love chilli, Ilocanos love the sour taste and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) and Kapangpangans love sweet cured meet such as Tocino (Pork) and Longganisa (Filipino chorizo). The only way to appreciate Filipino food and its diversity is to try our food!
The Philippines struggles with branding and identity. Foodwise, are not similar enough to Chinese, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese or Malaysian food. These are all countries British people tend to visit and tourism is a massive factor in food knowledge, experience and curiosity. People go abroad and when they get back home, they want to get a taste of that dish they had on holiday. My vision is for Filipino food to be an actual option for people in London and the UK, with knowledge of our main dishes and the appetite to try our more regional dishes too. Integral to that is more opportunities to try and experience Filipino food, so the more restaurants, supper clubs, food stalls, pop ups and events…the better! We all have our part to play for the recognition of Filipino food, so I do not see my peers as direct competition, as the more people trying Filipino food, the more people will eventually be eating Filipino food, which is what we all want in the first place.