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Culture Hit-Or-Miss The Katchup

9 Essential Lao Dishes To Acquaint Yourself In The Rich Cuisine

Editor’s Note: Lao Chef, Saengthong Douangdara was a recent guest on Foodbeast’s ‘The Katchup’ podcast to discuss all things Lao food. Listen to the episode here.

 

It can be confusing sometimes when you enter a Southeast Asian restaurant because you may have run into some dishes you didn’t know originated from Laos.  This is especially common with Thai restaurants.

This is because when Lao people came to the U.S. as refugees of the Vietnam War starting in 1975, the Lao people that opened restaurants started creating Thai restaurants with Thai food and Lao dishes sprinkled throughout the menu. That’s because Thai food was the easiest way for Lao people to gain leverage in the U.S. since many Westerners loved and knew about Thai cuisine already. As a result, customers of these restaurants started getting these foods confused. But these days, thanks to a growing awareness, a Lao food movement is helping Laotians feel empowered about their food.

Lao food is very spicy, pungent, fermented, fresh, and features an aggressive amount of flavors.  Some important ingredients to make Lao food are: padaek (unfiltered fish sauce), sticky rice, galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, green onions, cilantro, and mint.  Many foods are fermented with sticky rice like som pak (fermented mustard greens); it is similar to kimchi without the vibrant red colors.

Let’s break down the signature nine essential dishes that make up Lao cuisine so you can feel confident in looking for and trying them!  

Khao Niew

Lao people are called “luuk khao niew” which means “children of sticky rice.”  Sticky rice is a staple in Lao meals and is eaten 24/7, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is used as a utensil when eating various minced meat dishes or dipping it into spicy dips.

Laab

 


Laab is the unofficial dish of Laos, and it is made from any minced meat mixed with lots of herbs and padaek (unfiltered fish sauce).  Many Lao dishes are served spicy, and it includes this dish. One of the unique flavors from this dish comes from the roasted sticky rice powder which gives it a toasted, nutty flavor.  

Thummakhoong


It is not a Lao meal without thummakhoong Lao papaya salad on the table.  With every crunch of the papaya, it comes bursting with funk, spice, and saltiness.  Although it may look dark and smell pungent, it blasts with umami flavors when eaten with sticky rice.  

Khao Piek Sen

Khao piek sen is the upgraded spicy chicken noodle soup.  It’s perfect for a cold evening with the chewy tapioca rice noodles sitting in a garlicky chicken broth.  It is perfectly garnished with fresh cilantro, green onion, and lime.

 

Gaeng Nor Mai

 

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This earthy bowl of Lao food called gang naw mai was made with hands from the East, West, and South. We created a bowl of comfort food that many Lao people grew up eating. Our connection to food and culture transcends the generations where we can just sit at a table with strangers and end the dinner becoming family. I had an amazing experience and was honored to travel with @chefseng around Texas for the @laofoodmovement . I was amazed and inspired by all the passionate stories of restaurant owners, food truck entrepreneurs, and Lao food lovers. I’m back in LA and feel more empowered to create my vision in this story. Cheers to more food adventures. 🙏 #laofoodmovement #chef #foodie #vegetarian #nomnom #laos

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Gaeng nor mai is the jungle stew of Laos.  Staring at the stew, it is a murky green with dark shades of veggies. It is filled with earthy flavors from bamboo, yanang leaves, and rice paddy herbs.  Sticky rice paste mixed with fresh bird eye chilies are used to thicken the stew.

 

Jeaw Mak Len


It may not be an entree, but jeaw mak len is an essential dip made from roasted bird eye chilies, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and padaek.  It shines with the vibrant red color with every dip of sticky rice and is usually eaten with a meat dish.

 

Mok


Any mok dish in Lao cuisine is a form of steaming a bundle of goodness within banana leaves.  The bundle is filled with crushed uncooked sticky rice, bird eye chili peppers, lemongrass, shallots, padaek, lime leaves, and green onions.  It is the perfect dish to eat with sticky rice as the mok is usually thick and filled with bamboo or fish. A popular mok is mok pa catfish, since catfish is highly prized in Southeast Asia.  

 

Bing Gai


Bing gai can be found all over the streets of Laos.  It is grilled chicken usually marinated in fish sauce and oyster sauce. This common street food pairs perfectly with sticky rice and a spicy dip like the one mentioned above, jeaw mak len.  The chicken is sometimes even grilled with a coating of peppers.

 

Sai Oua


Sai oua is Lao sausage.  It is filled with fatty pieces of pork surrounded by aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, shallots, and cilantro.  The sausage can be soured for a few days and you can find different variations of Lao sausage in various regions. It is soured when cooked with sticky rice, which acts as the carbohydrates in the fermentation process.

Categories
Culture The Katchup

How To Eat Sticky Rice Without Embarrassing Yourself

“Mexicans always love sticky rice,” was a saying my Laotian friend and his older brothers loved to exclaim, as a 12-year-old me learned the parallels between it and tortillas, and grasped the concept with their help.

The glutinous rice is prepared in different ways throughout Asia, but if you find yourself in a Southeast Asian restaurant such as Thai, Lao, or Vietnamese (but primarily in Laotian cuisine), it is meant to be grabbed with your hands and used as an edible utensil.

To this day, I’m thankful that my dear old friend and his family taught me about his culture’s dishes, as I often order sticky rice at Southeast Asian-based restaurants and get a, “Wow, you actually know how to eat sticky rice!” from the servers.

Apparently the way you handle sticky rice can easily expose your familiarity with Southeast Asian cuisine, according to Chef Saeng Douangdara, who spoke on the matter during the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast.

“So when I go to a Lao restaurant and I see non-Lao people come in, I can see if it’s their first time or not by the way they eat the sticky rice,” Chef Saeng said. “With sticky rice, we use that as a spoon.”

Saeng specializes in Lao cuisine, and has been an advocate for exposing the U.S. palate to the often-suppressed Lao flavors.

If you’re not familiar with sticky rice, it’s not unusual to start sticking your fork into it, serving it on the side of your plate and eating it as you would most other types of rice. But if you really want to look like a pro, Saeng laid out the steps plainly:

“You just take like a quarter size… play with it for a bit, clump that up until all the grains of the rice come together and it’s all mushy. Once you have it in that sticky form, you could make it flat if you want or just use it as a ball to just scoop up that extra jalapeno dip or that extra stew or beef. That’s kind of like your spoon, unless you’re eating like a noodle dish, then that’s where you use chopsticks.”

Similarly to how my fellow Mexicans like to rip apart tortillas and use them as scoopers or how pitas are used for Mediterranean food, sticky rice applies the same concept.

While it sounds simple, it could be a little intimidating to see that rice-filled bamboo basket come to your table and not be 100 percent confident with how to eat it.

Alas, it is all part of the beauty of learning about other cultures, respectfully enjoying their traditions, and expanding your palate in ways you never have before.

If you’d like to learn more about Chef Saeng, Laotian cuisine, and its subtle connection to Thai food, listen in to The Foodbeast Katchup, episode #76: Lao Chef Calls Out Foodbeast. If you enjoy the podcast, feel free to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or even YouTube for more in-depth food conversations that you will not hear anywhere else.

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Entrepreneurship Plant-Based The Katchup

Beyond Meat Just Became The First Plant-Based Burger Producer To Go Public

In the past few years, we’ve seen plant-based meat go from a Silicon Valley pipedream to a revolutionary food that has already invaded mainstream fast food chains. Now, the disruptive industry is making Wall Street its next target, as Beyond Meat has become a publicly traded company.

Photo courtesy of Carl’s Jr.

Beyond Meat is now the first ever plant-based burger purveyor to ever go public, a major step forward in confirming that vegan meat substitutes are the way forward. Investors seem to think so too: Just hours after launch, the company has already more than doubled its share price, a feat only achieved by just over 20 other companies in the last two decades.

It’s clear that plant-based food has invaded the mainstream and become a core part of daily eating, whether it be as a vegan, flexitarian or just someone looking to cut down on meat consumption. Could this also be a sign that these substitutes aren’t just going to be a part of the status quo, but could one day dominate it?

That conversation merits discussion, especially with how Beyond Meat is skyrocketing up the charts today. With all of that in mind, myself, fellow Foodbeast Elie Ayrouth, and vegan chef Skyler Tanksley broke down what all of this might mean on Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast. Tanksley, who runs the kitchen at Orange County’s first-ever vegan diner, Munchies, had some particularly insightful thoughts into what a future where plant-based meats are the norm could be like.

Regardless of whether any of that comes true, one thing is for certain: With how Beyond Meat is already performing on the stock market, it’s only a matter of time before vegan meat becomes as commonplace as the real thing.

Categories
Culture Features FOODBEAST Opinion The Katchup

Here Is How The Michelin Guide Can Make Angelenos Care About It

Earlier this year, the Michelin Guide, known by most foodies and insiders as the defining restaurant rating guide, made the announcement of its return to Los Angeles after a nine year hiatus in the city. At the time, former Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret commented on the departure, “The people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit.”

But times have changed since Naret’s verbal slap to Los Angeles, as it is now heralded as one of the most exciting food cities. Fast forward to now and you have Angelenos who are armed with adventurous and curious palates, all eager for a taste of authenticity and the previously unknown all at once. Such a groundswell of interest in cuisine has lead to a foodie movement in the city that’s been influenced by the culinary machine that is the Los Angeles of now. These days new restaurant concepts are fresh and exciting, chefs are emboldened to serve the food authentic to their personal experiences, and equal validity and fanfare is bestowed upon all kinds of eating establishments, whether it be a taco truck roving the streets or posted up outside a tire shop to fine dining restaurants that challenge diners’ tastes and invigorate inclinations.

With such a broad stroke of culinary offerings from all kinds, backgrounds, and formats coloring Los Angeles, is the typically stuffy, white table cloth-leaning, and archaic Michelin Guide even a good fit for the city? And frankly, should Angelenos even care?

The simple answer would be ‘no’, since the Michelin Guide outright called out LA diners and slandered the city on its way out. But being that Visit California has partnered up with the guide to come back to Los Angeles, it’s wise to consider the benefits that the added tourism and influx of dollars it could bring in. But beyond that, why else should the foodies of Los Angeles pay attention to the Michelin Guide?

Eater LA Senior Editor, Farley Elliott, helped answer that question on a recent appearance on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast.

“If they don’t put a San Gabriel Valley restaurant on there, if they don’t put a taco truck on there and give one of these places that are everyday dining options a star, people like you are just going to continue to laugh it off and rightfully so.”

Sure, the Michelin Guide has long been the culinary standard of excellence, but what it fails to do in tandem with its longevity is adapt to modern culinary norms. The rigidity in its preference for tasting menu, white tablecloth, European fine dining establishments reflects on a draconian and frankly problematic formula for its lack of inclusion of restaurants outside of such narrow standards.

But here in Los Angeles, the Michelin Guide has a chance to address such criticisms by taking the city for what it is. “Glendale is so different than Venice, it’s so different than Frogtown, and Silver Lake, and Downtown or the Arts District. So [the Michelin Guide] has got to be willing to meet these places where they’re at and understand and respect that obviously what they’re doing is working for the average diner.”

So until the Michelin Guide can start recognizing the Mini Kabobs and Sun Nong Dans of Los Angeles, places where they reflect the everyday dining habits of most folks, then the majority of Angelenos will simply not care or give credence to the merit of it at all.

 

Feature Photo: Steve Lyon
Categories
Culture Health The Katchup

Man Lost 100 Pounds By Switching To An Indigenous Foods Diet

“I’ve lost 100 pounds since July.”

Photos courtesy of Zach Johnston

When UPROXX travel writer Zach Johnston dropped that bombshell on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast, everyone was stunned. Johnston’s weight loss story is incredible, but not just because he dropped an average of over 10 pounds per month in that time span. It’s the diet and lifestyle he switched to that really stood out.

“I started fasting for 18 hours a day,” he said, introducing his unique diet plan. As for meals, “I just straight up do wild proteins, greens, wild rice a couple of times a week, throw in some beans every now and then. I seasonally do squash, corn, things like that.”

The type of diet Johnston is subscribing to can best be described as an “indigenous” diet, because it’s based on the foods that American Indians ate throughout history until US governmental oppression forced them out of most of that culture. Before moving away from the reservation, Johnston’s family was part of the Skokomish Tribe in Washington State. He has long been writing stories about these types of foods, their history, and how it’s almost impossible to find it represented in today’s restaurant scene.

For those unfamiliar with the indigenous history, American Indians long occupied the modern United States until the idea of “Manifest Destiny” came along. As the USA spread its influence across the continent, according to Johnston, tribes’ camps, cultures, and history were often decimated, with younger generations brainwashed into the mainstream colonist lifestyle. A major result of that “cultural genocide” is that most of the tribes’ food history was lost. Only spoken-word tales and adaptations to living on harsh reservations remain.

Johnston grew up in that food history and culture, and living off of the resources that were around him helped instrumentally with his diet. While Johnston lives in Germany these days, he can still get a lot of those ingredients in the country. It shows that these indigenous or wild foods, and a diet centered around them, are attainable even in today’s grocery store society.

“You can find all of this food around you,” Johnston confirms. “There’s bison, wild fish in the supermarkets. You can have a wild lifestyle through razor clams, butter clams, oysters, crab. It’s not impossible to have wild foods.”

By going into this dietary lifestyle, Johnston explains, and focusing in on stuff that’s wild around your area, you can feel “more sustained.” This is especially true with grains like wild rice, which is heftier than the standard white rice we find in stores, meaning you don’t need to eat as much of it.

However, it’s also not a great idea to just rush out into the wild and start picking the foods yourself. That ability comes with knowledge of what’s safe to eat. There are guides based on your local region typically available on places like Amazon, but there are also alternatives to foraging.

“Obviously, not everyone can just rush out into the fields and start picking everything they need to make a salad,” Johnston said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t start growing more of this shit, because it’s an agriculture from here.”

Through eating an indigenous diet and growing more of our own food, though, it’s clear through people like Johnston that the health benefits, alongside the awareness it gives to a culture that truly deserves it, are a massive plus. Because this type of diet is high in key nutrients like fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein, it can help with everything from muscle and bone strength to brain function and mental health.

You can listen to Johnston’s full take on indigenous foods, his diet, the history of American Indian culture and food, and more on the most recent episode of The Katchup, embedded above.

*Author’s Note: “American Indian” and “Indigenous” were both terms preferred by Johnston in his conversations on The Katchup.

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Culture Entrepreneurship Restaurants The Katchup

Why Restaurants Value You, The Everyday Consumer, More Than Influencers

When restaurants start up, there’s a lot of pressure to get noticed and go viral, especially in the modern age of social media. Thus, several find themselves giving top dollar to big-name food influencers early to help get that initial foot traffic in the door.

While having connections to these social media gurus helps, their overall effect pales in comparison to the power us everyday consumers have in turning a restaurant into a success story.

 

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In business & in life it’s more about your hard work rather than your network. You can create networks. You can build a brand from the bottom up. But you have to be willing to put the time in, and think outside the box consistently. How do you maximize your resources, and how do you take advantage of the opportunities you have, rather then complain about what you don’t have. The idea is to start thinking micro rather then macro. Create a network from the bottom up so your business or brand has real life engagement, local support, and customers that create a continuous flow of revenue your business can depend on and grow from. This is my view on networks. Hope you guys find it useful. #Business #Network #ChessNotCheckers

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“Your local gym manager will bring to you per day, more people, more capita, than an influencer, because those are local people in that area that wanna eat,” explains Bear D’Egidio, the co-owner of the viral Groundhouse Burger. As both an influencer (aka “The Burger God”) and a restaurant owner, D’Egidio revealed on Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast that while being able to get big names advertising his business is cool, he gives the local community an equal amount of attention.

“Everybody has a network,” he said. “Your cousins, your local gym manager. The person you’re at school with. Your teacher, your principal. Those are content creators. Those are influencers, they’re micro-influencers. Stop looking at the game so macro. People need to break down what they are. If you don’t have resources, if you don’t have a network, you start small and you build. Your principal turns into the district principal, who turns into [a local fitness celeb]. You have these networks around you, macro or micro, that you can use however you want.”

Us telling our friends and family about the places we love to eat has a real fiscal impact, one we may not even realize. The lunch place you fall in love with and tell your co-workers about may lead to dozens of people in their own networks checking it out. It’s how dinner pop-ups get traction and become viral to the point that their owners become local celebrities, which is what happened to college chef Jimmy Wong, whose fine dining pop-up in his San Luis Obispo apartment became flooded with reservations almost immediately. Same goes for Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen, who started out in his Los Angeles apartment before his popularity made him a local celebrity with his own cookbook and brick-and-mortar location.

These guys wouldn’t have their success stories if not for the general public, aka, the “micro-influencers.” Each of us has the potential to be a micro-influencer; all it takes is a brief mention to our friends about our current favorite restaurants.

If you have a place or few that you love posting up at to eat, make sure to tell your friends. It’s the best way to get people in the door and ensures that those restaurants will hang around for years to come.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Restaurants The Katchup

Watts Restaurateur Shares How Roy Choi’s ‘Locol’ Could Succeed Upon Reopening

When Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson opened their first location of Locol in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, they hoped to bring a healthier fast food alternative at an affordable price. Fast forward a few years later, and the restaurant face of Locol has transitioned to a focus on catering while Choi works on developing Locol 2.0.

The chain had its obstacles, including significant drops in foot traffic over time and a particularly controversial zero-star review from the New York Times. As a result, money eventually ran out, as Choi explained on Twitter when the retail side shifted to catering. However, the question still existed as to why Locol had the problems it did. What could it do better in its next iteration?

Restaurateur Keith Garrett, the “Quesadilla Kingpin” of Watts and owner of viral sensation All Flavor No Grease, had some thoughts to share on the subject. As part of his conversation with Foodbeast’s Elie Ayrouth and Geoff Kutnick on The Katchup Podcast, he gave his take on what Locol was missing that the neighborhood wanted to see.

Garrett had almost nothing but praise for Choi’s concept and mission behind Locol. “Great guy, the building was beautiful, location was cool, prices were great!” he said on what people in the community thought. “You got an Asian guy that just opened up smack in the dead middle of Watts? Ooh, he hard for that! He gotta have heart! Let’s go see what the food do. So then you go in there, you see the whole staff is from the housing project and community over there… You’re like ‘Shit, let’s go support, let’s go see!'”

According to Garrett, all of Choi’s employees came from the projects, if not from Watts proper, then from nearby neighborhoods where he offered folks a chance to come together. It was an incredible undertaking and a project that opened up new possibilities for a community sorely in need of it.

But if Choi had such support from the locals for Locol, then why did it struggle? For Garrett, the menu played a big part into it.

“I think that Roy needed another dish on his menu, or three,” Garrett explained. “The dishes Roy came with were good, but were not fit for the hood. Don’t get me wrong, he had a veggie chili, BOMB… But there was just these other dishes on the menu that wasn’t getting bought a lot. You’re just not gonna survive on just some chili, or you’re not just gonna survive on one drink. You need something for the economy. Why would McDonald’s work versus Locol? They got a hamburger, fries, and a soda. He don’t.”

 

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Locol did sell burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets amongst their fast food staples. But for Garrett, those items tended to fall flat, mainly because they weren’t the same kind that the neighborhood was used to. That disconnect between what was being sold and what the community wanted may not have been the biggest reason, but it seems to have at least played a factor into foot traffic and sales.

It’ll definitely be something Choi addresses as he continues to develop his newest iteration of the concept, which should be ready to go some time in the near future. Meanwhile, the space is still being used to run catering and event operations. One also can’t understate the legacy that Locol left behind in its short time as a restaurant, as Choi made clear in a recent interview with GQ.

“No one talks about the two and a half years of jobs that we created,” Choi said. “Of attention, of discussion, of focus, of becoming LA Times Restaurant of the Year, of inspiring new generations… And the fact that we still have our catering operation going, and that we’re now raising more money to come back with the 3.0 version… maybe the retail part failed in its first iteration, but the business itself didn’t fail, I don’t think.”

When Locol’s return does come, Watts will be ready for the benefits it’s already shown to provide the community. Hopefully, the food resonates a lot stronger with them this time as well.

Categories
Culture Opinion The Katchup

Whistle Blowing Cultural Appropriation In Food Today Lacks Context And Nuance

I love cooking food from other cuisines. It’s one of my life passions to spend years learning the nuances, history, and traditions behind a cuisine, and then attempting to replicate it on my own. I never call what I make “authentic,” but it gives me a hint of what’s out there in the world of food that I have yet to try.

With this mentality in mind, the uptick in news about culturally appropriating restaurants has made me question my hobby a bit. Is it right for me to cook dishes of other cuisines when I’m not of that ethnicity and background? It certainly seems like that may be the case, as the keyboard warriors of food social media have pointed out to many restaurateurs that do the same.

I’ve always struggled to find what that right answer may be, but a Southern California churro shop owner posed with that same question recently has helped me identify a potential solution.

Jed Cartojano, owner of The Loop Churros and popular foodie Instagram account @dailyfoodfeed, spoke in depth on the subject on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast. Cartojano, a Filipino, had been in the midst of some controversy when he was accused of cultural appropriation, for being an Asian who owned a churro shop in Southern California.

“Kinda disappointing when it’s Asians running a churros joint,” the accuser wrote on Instagram. “Probably can’t even pronounce the rolling “R” in it right.”

Cartojano clapped back with ease, though, since churros have been a part of Filipino cuisine for nearly 500 years. In fact, churros arrived in both Mexico and the Philippines about the same time. Spain, where the churro originally hails from, colonized both countries in the early 15th century, and the churro has been integral to each cuisine since.

That point was made clear in Cartojano’s full discussion with podcast hosts Elie Ayrouth and Geoff Kutnick. In essence, not only was he not culturally appropriating churros, but he was also helping to open up Southern California to a world of Filipino-driven churro and dessert creations locals may not have experienced before.

Calling what Cartojano does “cultural appropriation” is far off base. That claim, however, has been used quite often in recent times to attack restaurants where the owner’s ethnic background may not match up with the cuisine. However, just because that is the case doesn’t mean that cultural appropriation is happening.

It’s hard to give the term “cultural appropriation” a clear definition, given how global trade, conquest, and migrations have caused the blending of cultures and cuisines countless times. The most flagrant instances, however, occur when someone attempts to profit off of another culture by exploiting others or proclaiming that they’re the authority on that cuisine.

A blatant example of what this phenomenon looks like comes from the infamous Kooks Burritos. A few years ago, a couple of female white entrepreneurs took handmade tortilla recipes from an abuelita, gave her no credit, then took over a Portland taco truck to sell their takes on breakfast burritos that used the exploited recipes. Kooks got such severe backlash from their insensitive interview where they revealed their backstory that they were forced to shut down within a few days.

More recently, Andrew Zimmern painted himself in an interview as the “savior of Chinese food” in the Midwest while promoting his new Chinese restaurant, The Lucky Cricket, in Minnesota. He drew sharp criticism for calling the local Chinese fare “horseshit” and saying that he could bring a more authentic take to the region, especially given the migrant families that were already there serving their traditional Chinese favorites. His words (and restaurant) fell flat on both accounts, based on reviews that have come in so far, and even Zimmern has regretted the words he said.

Those examples, however, could just as easily have been great stories on how to treat another food’s culture. If Zimmern hadn’t painted himself as the “savior of Chinese food” in the Midwest, and instead used his new restaurant as purely a showcase of the foods he fell in love with during his epicurean travels, then one would easily surmise that he wouldn’t have received any backlash in the first place. As long as appropriate tribute and attribution is given to the cuisine you’re cooking, there should be no reason for someone to come after you for “cultural appropriation.” Foodbeast’s own Reach Guinto describes that perfectly in his take on the subject below:

If you’re confident in your ability to give proper respect to the origin cuisine, while also effectively infusing your own story and passion into it — with it of course being delicious — THEN YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU POPPIN’. A good chef cooks from the soul and incorporates their experiences into their cuisine.”

This can be applied to what Cartojano does with The Loop Churros as well. He’s giving Southern California a representation of what Filipino-style churro desserts can be like, while adding his own creative visual flair and style that makes the treats pop off on Instagram. There’s always going to be the haters whenever a video shows Asians running a churro shop, but if you take the time to learn the true history of various foods, you can see what makes Cartojano’s concept so special and valued.

So, can we cook food from other cuisines? Absolutely, long as you give the appropriate credit, respect, understanding and attribution to those you learned from but still take the time to make it your own. For people like me that love to explore other cuisines, that means holding true to what we’ve discovered about the dishes we’re making, but being humble enough to credit others for the deliciousness that we’ve created for ourselves and those around us.