By Steve Angeles/ABS-CBN North America News Bureau – A Filipino restaurant is the toast of the town after Guy Fierri took his hit Food Network show “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” to Park’s Finest, a Fil-Am-owned restaurant specializing in Filipino cuisine fusion with backyard-style barbecue.
“For us to be able to able to bring Filipino barbecue, the whole line, the seasoning and to mix it with the American touch, it’s overwhelming right now,” said co-owner, Oscar Bautista.
The celebrity chef met with the owners and featured the Pinoy-inspired cuisine. He brought along special guests, Hollywood stars of “Grown Ups 2″ Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and David Spade.
The biggest hit among the A-List comedians was the cornbread bibingka, an invention that one of the owners discovered as she was trying to improve cornbread.
“Everybody complained cornbread is so dry, but fine I’ll make it anyways, and I like making bibingkas for Christmas so my husband was like that’d be great if you can put it together, the cornbread and bibingka,” said Ann Pajimula.
For the owners who all grew up together in Los Angeles, it’s a dream come true. Involved in after school Filipino programs and undergoing mentorship and entrepreneurial workshops as youth, they decided to go Into business together amidst the recession.
In 2009, they started a catering company and then last year, they opened their restaurant at the border of Historic Filipinotown and downtown Los Angeles where they hope to be a symbol that the community can produce positive role models.
“Back in the 90s when we saw a lot of Filipino on Filipino crime as well as the crime that was happening, the violence that was happening in our own neighborhoods, folks made it a point to say keep these kids out of trouble. And with that investment we’re lucky to be here and to be able to pay that back,” said co-owner Johneric Concordia.
While they enjoyed the episode’s debut with friends, family, and supporters, the work is far from over for Park’s Finest.
The young foodies are now looking at expanding their business, including opening other locations where they can bring their unique style of Filipino backyard cooking.
Now in the national spotlight, it’s a pride that the local community can feast on. The name Park’s Finest is a tribute to the Echo Park neighborhood where the owners grew up in, a reflection of the melting pot in their recipe for success.
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