The Spanish Influence
Our local palate is an eclectic one, full of strange combinations and influence from the past. Yet despite this distinctive personality, there's no doubt that many of our preferences have stemmed from that period in time when cocineros were abundant in Filipino kitchens. "While Filipino cuisine is most definitely in a league of its own, today we attribute a huge part of its overall character to being Spain’s colony this side of the world," he says. "We inherited from them culture and tradition—and culinary tradition is definitely no exception."
As chef and restauranteur at Bueno Tapas and Wines, Chef Kennedy understands Spanish food more than most. He's travelled (and eaten) extensively throughout Spain, worked in the Basque country, learning more each time about Spanish tradition, geography, and terroir. "I notice how the north-northwestern regions that receive more rainfall (e. g. Asturias and La Rioja, among others) have meat dishes as their most prominent, while I see the cuisines of the coastal regions bordering the Mediterranean having adapted a variation of the Mediterranean Triad, and so on."
Using his keen observations on taste and geography, Chef Kennedy has brought the flavours of Spain to his kitchen in Bueno Tapas. Surprisingly, it didn't seem to be too difficult. "Taking into account the similarities between Filipino and Spanish cuisines, capturing the Filipino palate didn’t pose much of a challenge. Everyday Spanish food—contrary to how intimidating they may seem—is quite straightforward," he explains. And for a population that's already familiar with such a taste profile, it didn't seem too farfetched that Bueno would be such a hit.
The differences between both cuisines aren't so much about about the ingredients themselves, or even about method, but about how our environment affects our needs. "Spain is temperate while the Philippines is tropical. Therein lies the difference as there are means of food preparation that suit the climate of one more than the other. Case in point is the Spanish's richer, thicker, and more intensely flavoured soups and stews that keep the people warm through winter, opposite our lighter clear soups like tinola and bulalo just enough to warm us up on rainy days and cold nights," Chef Kennedy points out.