Farm-to-table dining has gained considerable popularity in the Philippines in recent years. Local chefs are jumping on the bandwagon with such speed, diners will not find a central business district without a restaurant embracing the concept.
Fresh, organic, and all-natural ingredients are the main attractions of farm-to-table restaurants. Supporting local farmers is its foremost, if not primary, advocacy.
Located in Bonifacio Global City, Earth Kitchen is drawing crowds to its specially crafted dishes using only farm-fresh ingredients. Co-owners Melissa Yeung-Yap, brothers Joseph and chef David Hizon, and executive chef J.R. Trani put up the restaurant to support the livelihood of farmers from Tarlac and other parts of Luzon and Mindanao. These farming communities are under Yap’s Got Heart Foundation, with the produce of these farmers dictating Earth Kitchen’s menu.
“One of the advocacies of Got Heart is natural farming. It is much better than traditional farming because traditional farming relies on fertilizer and pesticides. These chemicals are bad for the environment and also bad for the farmers because it causes them to accumulate so much debt. When you’re doing organic farming, you’re self-reliant, you make your own fertilizers. The problem was that the farmers don’t know how to sell their crops. Earth Kitchen provided them with a steady a clientele,” says Yeung-Yap.
Relying on what Got Heart farmers can provide them, the chefs created an inspired menu with traces of Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, and Italian cuisines.
“Our menu is not cuisine-specific, reflecting the personality and preferences of the chefs and owners. The options are pretty safe, there is something for everyone,” says chef Trani.
According to the chefs, they take an open approach to using local ingredients. The key word is “open”, meaning they approach the local ingredients in a different way, a way that’s not expected.
“We wanted a menu that was healthy but we didn’t want it to be vegetarian, although we have vegetarian options and very few vegan. We definitely use a lot of vegetables. We make everything from scratch, from the pasta to the ice cream to the tortillas,” supplies chef Hizon.
The bestsellers are the beef kebab, shrimp spring rolls, watermelon and rocket salad, and beef bulgogi soft taco. Other popular dishes are the Mushroom ravioli, risotto uni negra, and goat cheese ice cream.
“We get a lot of the health-conscious crowd. They want something lighter than the usual restaurant food. We also have a lot of seniors because they’re very conscious about heavy food. We also get families,” says Yeung-Yap.
The dining experience is further enhanced by Earth Kitchen’s interiors that do not veer away from the food’s organic, all-natural theme. Aerial plants hang on wooden beams. Other plants serve as wall accents. Long wooden tables and chairs, made from repurposed wood, stand on carpets resembling beautifully cut grass like in parks.
“We wanted the ambience of Earth Kitchen to feel like a picnic, for people to feel refreshed while enjoying their food,” says Yeung-Yap.
Healthy, local and sustainable
Earth Kitchen opened its first branch in July 2013, along White Plains in Katipunan, Quezon City. The restaurant was named thus because Yeung-Yap wanted a restaurant that did not cover up the taste of the ingredients.
“We rely on good ingredients for the dishes to taste good. So it’s like the Earth is the kitchen,” she says.
Aside from preparing delicious meals, each Earth Kitchen branch has a retail area selling teas, jams, rice, and coffee. All are from local producers.
Yeung-Yap says Earth Kitchen is founded on these three concepts: healthy, local and sustainable.
“I feel that it’s our purpose that is unique. Earth Kitchen is really part of Got Heart Foundation. It is not even a business, it’s an outreach program. Whatever the restaurant makes goes back to the foundation and is used in educating farmers and funding the farms,” she finishes.
For more inquiries, visit www.earthkitchen.ph.