First-ever Filipino food festival launched in Kent
KENT - Filipino cuisine took center stage at the first-ever Filipino Food Festival in Kent, southeast England, flocked by hundreds of local Filipinos and other nationalities.
A community hall in central Ashford in Kent was filled with the smell and taste of the Philippines one sunny afternoon in October, with stalls selling Filipino food ranging from menudo and kare-kare to daing and Pinoy-style barbecue.
Popular deserts like bibingka and suman also proved a hit, alongside well-loved Filipino staples like pandesal and sticky rice.
Goods and wares from the Philippines were also available from local Filipino stores, from grocery products to Filipiniana costumes.
"In Ashford, there is no Filipino restaurant, no Filipino shop, that's why I wanted to represent this and introduce to the people around. My number one aim is to introduce this food, and not only food but Filipino culture as well," said Laurie Cacho Sheppard, organizer of the event.
She added: "I'm so happy. I didn't expect this many people, especially from different nationalities. I have a shop here in Ashford and my customers have been asking me if Filipino food is nice. And I told them they have to try so they can know how good it is."
Guests from different backgrounds joined the local Filipino community in eating and celebrating food from the Philippines, many of whom seemed to enjoy the offerings.
"I think it's very tasty. It's very different to Indian or Chinese, but I think it's very healthy, especially the fish and the meat dishes," said Felicity Kaye, an English guest who is originally from Yorkshire in northern England.
The English tutor, who has previously tasted Filipino home-cooking through friends, also observed: "[Filipinos] are very homely and warm-hearted, and very business-like at the same time. It's a good combination."
British-Jamaican guest Wilford Roberts, on the other hand, is new to Filipino food. On his first experience, he said: "Very flavorsome. I had quite a lot, very interesting flavors. Very interesting food. It was very nice."
And he seems to have been charmed by the Filipino people as well, saying: "Filipinos are very community-orientated and they support each other as you can see by the amount of people that are here. I haven't been to the Philippines, but I love the culture and I hope to visit the country very soon."
Filipinos from Kent and beyond supported the event in droves bringing friends and family along, most of whom seemed pleased by the positive response from British guests.
"I'm really proud, to be honest, and seeing those people who appreciate Filipino food. Being a Filipino and having restaurants back home like carinderias as we call it, I'm very happy to be here and it brings us closer to home," said Rochelle Rosal Neale, a government contractor who recently moved to the area from London.
The Cebu-native added: "My husband is Maltese and our food is quite different, but even he enjoyed it especially sisig, which most foreigners don’t like, but luckily he did. The Filipino food here was good, though some of it were not as authentic in taste as it would be back home. But I think everybody enjoyed it."
Proceeds from the event will go towards Cancer Research UK and local projects for the needy in IloIlo, particularly on food and livelihood initiatives.