Hollywood stars rave about ‘corn bread bibingka’

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 9, 2013

Los Angeles – A Filipino business 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 combined 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,” owner Oscar Bautista said.

The celebrity chef met with the owners and featured the Pinoy-inspired cuisine and he brought along special guests, Hollywood actors and stars of ‘Grown Ups 2,’ Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and David Spade.

The biggest hit among the A-List funny men 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 I make it anyway,” co-owner Anne Pajimulla said, “And on Christmas I like making bibingkas so my husband suggested that I put together bibingka and cornbread.”

For the owners who all grew up together in Los Angeles, it’s a dream come true. They were involved in after school Filipino programs and underwent mentorship and entrepreneurial workshops as youth. They decided to go into business together amid 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,” said co-owner Johneric Concordia, “and with that investment we’re lucky to be here and to be able to pay that back.”

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.

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