In November of 2013, the Philippines was hit by Haiyan, a typhoon that devastated the country and killed over 6,000 people. Chef Francis Ang and his wife Dian were fortunate enough to survive, and they returned to the U.S. determined to raise money for their home and all who had been affected by the disaster. They hosted their first Filipino dinner as a fundraiser, and Pinoy Heritage was born.
In Chef Francis’ words, Pinoy Heritage is “a contemporary popup with a nod to tradition.” His hope is that it will bring diners closer to Filipino food by highlighting its diversity and all that it has to offer. The Philippines is a conglomerate of 7,107 islands and the cuisine has been influenced by everything from Malay settlers trading in China to colonization by the Spanish. To research dishes and experience the varieties from different provinces, Francis and Dian spent half of 2016 traveling through the Philippines. During their travels, they learned from relatives and locals, immersing themselves in the culture and in the cuisine.
This popup is the newest culinary venture in Chef Francis’ accomplished career. Most recently the highly-regarded sous and pastry chef at Dirty Habit, he was named one of the “People’s Best Pastry Chefs” of the West Coast by Food & Wine Magazine and one of Zagat SF’s “30 Under 30” to watch in 2012. His experience includes tenure at Copenhagen Bakery in Burlingame and at Gary Danko, working under the restaurant’s namesake himself. He later joined Fifth Floor restaurant as a line cook, but was quickly elevated to pastry chef when his mentor, David Bazirgan, saw his passion for desserts. Currently, he helps curate the dessert program for the two Michelin-starred Cal-Indian restaurant at Taj Campton Place.
So how did this young chef arrive on the food scene? “Growing up,” he says, “I was never the talented kid. I didn’t dance, or draw, or even play sports well.” He moved to San Francisco from Manila at age 19, towing with him the memories of food cooked by his grandmother. After enrolling at City College of San Francisco and studying under pastry instructor Mark Hodgson, he realized that there were “endless possibilities of creativity” in the food world. “I was hooked,” he says.
Although his goal is to one day open a brick-and-mortar version of Pinoy Heritage, he looks forward to the adventurous and open-minded diners who will soon sit at his table. And his cuisine is sure to tantalize. Expect dishes like homemade pancit noodles with Dungeness crab (of which the chef has perfected his cleaning technique–video coming soon!), citrusy shaved Buddha’s hand, radishes, carrots, and a buttery alavar sauce. Drooling yet?