From the savoury Adobo (pork/chicken stew) to the trendy Ube dessert, the humble and unassuming Philippine cuisine is always catalpulted by foodies as the next Asian rising star. We chatted with John Viojan, owner of The Filipino Project in Adelaide, about his growing food business and how he flirts the international palettes of South Australians.
Hey Paolo: When was The Filipino Project established?
Hey Paolo: What’s the history and inspiration behind your business?
We used to own another Filipino restaurant here in Adelaide. After closing the restaurant years ago, we found a gap in the market especially when it comes to offering Filipino food during festivals. We were lucky enough to be a part of many large events for the past three and a half years. Our business has since evolved and we now do private catering for intimate events, including birthdays and weddings.
Hey Paolo: What’s unique about your food/services?
We try to offer Filipino favourites with a twist. At present, we are the only business in South Australia offering Filipino Kamayan-style (communal style) grazing tables.
Hey Paolo: What are your main challenges as a business?
Not many people know what Filipino food tastes like. The main challenge will be introducing and describing the flavours to someone who has never tried it before.
Hey Paolo: What’s your most sellable item?
Previously, it was our Tocino-flavoured BBQ Ribs. But ever since we added Lechon (suckling pig) on the menu, everyone has been loving it. It has been a best-seller because we also offer limited quantity per event. People know that they have to come early to be able to order and get one, otherwise they might be able to try it at all.
Hey Paolo: How are you affected by these challenging times?
We’re mainly event-driven, so it has been difficult when our events get postponed/ cancelled. Now, things are starting to change and we’re starting to see more people out and about again. We’re doing a lot of smaller/ home-based catering gigs and we have also started bottling our own bbq sauce to sell to everyone.
Hey Paolo: What’s your personal story?
I’ve always had an interest in cooking. I was born in Illigan City, Philippines, but my parents migrated to Darwin, Australia when I was still a baby. I grew up with a big family and we always have big gatherings to feed plenty of people. My dad was my first teacher in the kitchen. He has since passed away and his memories constantly inspire me. I just wish he has managed to try my own version of the lechon.
Hey Paolo: What’s your favorite festivals here in South Australia?
Our two biggest food festivals here are the Lucky Dumpling Market and Gluttony during the Adelaide Fringe. The guys behind Gluttony gave us our first opportunity to work in the festival scene and we’ve been really lucky to grow our business alongside them. We love it when the city comes alive during the festival season. We wish it’s always like that all year round.
Follow THE FILIPINO PROJECT on Instagram: @thefilipinoproject