FIRST BITE | GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS
Gerald is my oldest friend in Toronto. We met in the breakfast line during orientation week in the first year of our undergraduate degrees. He was in Film Studies, I studying Theatre. For a long while, we remained friends who only saw each other every six months, and it would be several years before we discovered our shared love for food. (but then we did and the rest is history)
Hosting a dinner event together had been something we talked about for a long time, but neither of us really knew what that would look like. How would we combine our tastes? Our love for food with my passion for nutrition? What would be the overall purpose behind our dinner, aside from sharing simple, healthy, and delicious food with others? Then we realized that's all it was.
First Bite was born out of our love for food, of which we both consider to have inherited from our families and our diverse upbringings. We wanted to showcase the unique culinary influences we had during our childhoods, in the kitchen, alongside our parents, siblings, and how we have taken those experiences into adulthood to create our own recipes and individual cooking styles. First Bite is a tribute to both our Asian heritage and to tradition, to the philosophy of keeping things simple and getting back to our roots.
Together, we prepared a 4-course meal for 25 guests, featuring some of our favourite traditional foods and updated family recipes.
The dinner took place at The Depanneur, starting with chicken meatballs and Chinese mushrooms in a mineral-rich bone broth with ginger, followed by banana blossom fresh rolls and my homemade hoisin sauce, with freshly crushed spices.
The main course was Filipino menudo, a succulent pork stew with vegetables, raisins, and in a thick liver and tomato sauce, served with wok-fried green beans in coconut oil, ginger, garlic, fresh red chillies, and finished with salt-preserved shrimp.
Dessert was ginataang bilo-bilo, a Filipino dessert of sticky rice dumplings, slow cooked with jackfruit, taro, sweet potatoes, and saba in a velvety coconut cream and topped with tapioca pearls and jackfruit dust. It's kind of magical, FYI.
The meal, the atmosphere, the company: the entire evening was everything and more than we could have asked for. It was such a wonderful experience getting to share our love for food with so many people, and to hear that our Sichuan green beans brought guests back to "that time [they] traveled throughout China."
Food that is equally as nourishing as it is delicious, with cultural roots, traditional foods, and functional nutrition. It can't get much better than that, and we can't wait to do it again.