Bridging Cultures In (And Out Of) Manila

In Cheryl Tiu’s series of pop-ups, food is the ultimate ambassador that brings people together.

Guest chef Roel Alcudia with Andrew Zarzosa of Yuzu at a Cross Cultures event in Miami. Photo courtesy of Cross Cultures

When Cheryl Tiu returned from a trip to Ethiopia in June 2015, the comments she received revealed a deep knowledge gap about the place. “Isn’t there a famine?” commented one friend. In fact, Cheryl says,“Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. People are so kind and polite, and the food is delicious. I wanted bring it to the Philippines and share this experience with Filipinos.”

Cheryl, a lifestyle writer known for her coverage of the food industry, dreamt up events platform Cross Cultures as a way to bridge countries and continents via an unforgettable meal. Three months after her trip, Cross Cultures x Eat Ethio was launched as a private dinner at Gallery Vask. Promoted only through her personal social-media pages, the dinner was sold out within 24 hours.

Since then, Cross Cultures has invited foreign celebrity chefs to Manila and taken Filipino chefs abroad (notably, Chele Gonzalez of Gallery by Chele visited Bali for a Cross Cultures 10-hands dinner in 2017). It is also Cheryl’s wish to champion female chefs: last September, she invited Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 Garima Arora to take over the kitchen of hotel Discovery Primea’s Flame restaurant.

The events platform’s latest pop-up took Filipino food chain Manam to Singapore, where the family-favorite eatery laid out a boodle fight at The Horse’s Mouth Bar and Yoshi. “I think that a lot of misunderstanding, dispute, violence, racism and hatred stem from when people don’t know what it’s like to be someone other than themselves,” says Cheryl. “I address this through food — after all, one of the first ways one can learn about a different culture is through their food.”


Pinoy Pop-ups

Introducing Filipino food to the region:

  • Sunny Side Café and Spicebird in Singapore. Last November, Singapore was introduced to two Boracay favorites. At The Gathering Room, Sunny Side Café highlighted some of its bestsellers including the adobo bowl, ube and cereal-milk pancakes and signature champorado. At hip coffee shop Chye Seng Huat Hardware, a Boracay night was hosted complete with music, craft beer and Spicebird’s delicious grilled piri-piri meats. “We’re hoping that the pop-ups encourage people to visit the island,” says Nowie Potenciano of the Sunny Side Group. “And it gave us a warm, fuzzy feeling to see Filipino expats and non-Pinoys at the pop-ups enjoying our dishes!”
  • Angelo Comsti with Kenji Kawasaki in Tokyo. Food chronicler Angelo Comsti did a one-night, four-hands collaboration with chef Kenji Kawasaki at Last Note Restaurant in Tokyo. Angelo, who just published a cookbook, Also Filipino, wanted to introduce Philippine cuisine beyond the usual adobo and kinilaw, serving dishes like poqui-poqui in crab-fat chawan mushi and short rib tiyula itum with squashcardamom purée to a sold-out crowd.


This story first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Smile magazine.

Written by

Sasha Lim Uy Mariposa

We use cookies for a number of reasons, such as keeping Smile website reliable and secure, personalising content and ads, providing social media features and to analyse how our Sites are used.