Filipino Restaurant in Houston Teams Up With Austin Chef on Dinner Event

A kamayan meal at Be More Pacific

Filipino eatery Be More Pacific is hosting a Kamayan Kollab dinner with Austin-based chef Harold Villarosa on April 9. The event takes place at 7 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 506 Yale in the Heights. Tickets cost $75 and are available online. The price includes a shot — additional alcoholic beverages will cost extra — and dessert.

A kamayan is a traditional Filipino meal served family-style on banana leaves. Participants eat with their hands, and some of the foods commonly include garlic fried rice, grilled meats and shrimp, lechon, lumpia, fried fish and plenty of condiments. However, a kamayan can be as big or small as the chefs desire, and what they decide to serve is ultimately up to them.

“As far as doing collaborations with our restaurant, the kamayan seemed like the biggest opportunity because it’s a whole bunch of food that’s just laying on the table,” says Giovan Cuchapin, founder, owner and operator of Be More Pacific. “And there are different layers to that, from creativity to all the dishes and to presentation, where chefs can really express their talents and showcase where they came from.” 

For the Kamayan Kollab, Cuchapin and Villarosa plan to place fresh seafood front and center. The final menu will be determined closer to the event to account for ingredient availability, though Cuchapin anticipates “prawns, mussels and some type of squid” in addition to “kinilaw, a Filipino type of ceviche” and “random fresh fruits.”

“We definitely wanted to take it a step up from what we usually do. Our chefs would usually make a couple of staples from our menu, as well as some off-menu items, but it was usually heavily pork and chicken dishes. We had very few seafood items,” Cuchapin says. “I’ve always talked about doing a whole seafood kamayan. So I brought up, ‘What can we do to elevate the experience and do something with seafood?’ The initial thoughts just kind of stuck.”

Shrimp served at a Be More Pacific kamayan
Shrimp served at a Be More Pacific kamayan. Courtesy photo.

Plans for the upcoming collaboration started when Villarosa reached out to Cuchapin about the possibility of working together as part of his series of pop-ups and partnerships centering on Filipino food. Be More Pacific initially caught his eye thanks to the suggestion of Soy Pinoy’s James Beard-winning chef Tom Cunanan. Villarosa — a native of the Philippines who studied the culinary arts in Denmark and recently relocated to Austin from New York City — has been featured on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl and once hosted videos on Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. He also ran the Insurgo Project, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing food insecurity. 

“I think that the thing that really made me take Villarosa seriously is that he has done some nonprofit work,” Cuchapin says. “I thought that was very respectable. Hopefully, down the line we can help nonprofits and really give back to the community.”

In the spirit of community, Cuchapin is eager to continue working with chefs interested in sharing more Filipino food with Houstonians. “I’m always looking to collaborate. Whether it’s Filipino or something Filipino-inspired, I’m always going to explore doing some kind of collaboration.”

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