Quest to cook 50 Filipino feasts in 50 states comes to Utah

By Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 8, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Filipino chef Yana Gilbuena is on a quest to cook 50 Filipino feats in all 50 states in 50 weeks.

She calls it the SALO Project, and her goal is one-fold.

“I want to raise awareness for Filipino cuisine and hopefully get it out there with the rest of our Asian neighbors,” Gilbuena said. “Hopefully people will be like, ‘I want Japanese or Chinese or Thai or maybe Filipino’ when they go out to dinner.”

Including the feast that she recently held in Utah, Gilbuena’s prepared dinners in 28 states, each one featuring five-courses as well as dishes from the three main regions of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindinao.

“These regions have all these different islands, and these islands have all these different flavors that I feel is not being fully represented,” she said.

Gilbuena also strives to bring a local flavor to her meals by basing her menus on what’s popular and in season in each state.

For Utah, she selected mushrooms and beef, which were used to make pinais na kabute and adobong baka. The dishes were a hit with the 13 people who gathered for the feast.

“This is an amazing spread,” said Viet Pham, one of the event’s diners. “I mean, there are so many different varieties of food and colors and flavors and textures. It’s pretty amazing.”

So far, Gilbuena’s hosted dinners in states along the Eastern seaboard, the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Midwest. She said her favorite was Alaska, while North Dakota proved to be the most challenging.

“For the record, I got four people in North Dakota, in Bismark, so, can’t say it was a zero,” she said with a laugh.

The Iloilo native will now take her SALO Project to the Great Plains and Midwest.

She plans on finishing the entire 50-state tour on March 22, 2015 in Oahu, Hawaii.

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