A Warm Introduction with a Filipino Twist

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August 29, 2016

Howdy! I'm a new addition to the Global Culinary Group here at General Mills and wanted to introduce myself. I'm a food-obsessed gal who is constantly thinking and dreaming about new recipes. I'm super excited to be a part of this team of talented chefs and want to highlight some of the fun projects I've been working on. One of the things I'm responsible for is recipe development for our seasonal Spatula Trends newsletter. For our summer edition I chose to highlight some of the foods of the Philippines which are finally gaining traction in the food world and are near and dear to my heart.

Jessie and Gina

One of my childhood best friends, Gina, is Filipino and I spent a lot of time at her house growing up. Shortly before I started my new role on the Global Culinary team in January, Gina's father, Rufino, passed away unexpectedly while living in the Philippines. This sad news brought up a flood of emotions and memories of my time spent with Gina’s family. My heart broke for my friend losing her father. However, this gave me more reason than ever to pay tribute to a great man who so graciously shared his family and culture with me, often calling me his, "adopted fifth daughter". He even encouraged me to become a member of his Filipino dance troop! I like to think they let me dance with them because of my super awesome dance moves, but I think it was more out of pity for my lack of rhythm.

My time with Gina and her family gave me a deeper understanding of the Filipino culture and a curiosity to learn more. Rufino was a wonderful cook and I can remember the many meals we ate in his kitchen. I must admit, the food was so different from what I knew at my own home so it took me a while to put aside my picky kid tendencies and give some of the exotic dishes a try. However, once I gave them a taste, I was hooked! I'm not saying I loved everything I tried, but I certainly took advantage of loading up on my favorites when they were in front of me. It's also where my obsession love for rice began!

One of my regrets is not paying more attention while Rufino was cooking. I remember the mouth-watering tastes and smells of the food, but I would have loved to learn his tips and tricks for making the dishes authentic. I love a good challenge so I set out to bring my food memories back to life. How cool is it that I have a job that allows me to do this at work?! It was super fun to research recipes, gather the ingredients at a local Asian grocery store, and play around in the kitchen until I nailed down the desired flavor combinations. I was instantly transported back to Rufino's kitchen once I started cooking and the familiar aromas of garlic, soy and vinegar filled the air.

Here are a few pictures of me developing the recipe for one of my favorite dishes, Pancit Bihon. It's a delicious stir-fried noodle dish that always makes an appearance at Filipino gatherings.

Developing Pancit Bihon

I am very pleased with the recipes and I am super excited to share them on our website. I sent pictures of my finished dishes to Gina and she told me her family will be very proud. That was really wonderful to hear. So, with that, I'd like to dedicate my first official blog post to Rufino. I never had the chance to tell him how much his food inspired me to pursue a career in the food industry. I'll leave you all with that to "noodle" on until next time. ;-)