The inaugural Kultura Festival in October drew 1,000 people. [Filipino Kitchen/Facebook]
They also were banking on attendees abiding by a particular stereotype: "Filipinos are always late," said co-founder Natalia Roxas. "If you say noon, expect them to be there at 1."
None of it quite turned out as they anticipated. A small group lingered outside before the doors opened at 11 a.m. For most of the rest of the day, there was a line out the door. Food started running out around 2:30 p.m. and by the end of it at 6 p.m., more than 1,000 fest-goers — Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike — had come through, Roxas said.
This time, she said, they're ready.
Roxas said there is more of a market aspect to the festival, with seven local artists and one out-of-town vendor selling art, handmade goods and other gifts.
Among them is artist Trisha Oralie Martin, one of the five Filipino-American artists chosen to design a mural of Philippine artifacts at the Field Museum. The mural was unveiled in November and will be on exhibit until June. The work was funded by a MacArthur Foundation grant.
Local company Camp Hunt will bring reclaimed wood planters to the Kultura Kristmas Festival. [Filipino Kitchen/Facebook]
There also are fewer food vendors at this Kultura fest — six as opposed to 11. But attendees can expect the same second-generation spin on Filipino stews, snacks and desserts.
Among Subido's dishes will be grilled cheese sandwiches filled with pineapple-glazed pork. Camba, who just returned from a trip to the Philippines, will cook steamed buns filled with kare-kare, an oxtail peanut stew; sisig scallion pancakes (sisig is sizzling pig ears and cheek), a cake called sans rival and a dish Roxas said Camba is keeping secret for now.
Roxas and Kultura co-founders Sarahlynn Pablo and Caitlin Preminger run the website Filipino Kitchen, which they fill with recipes, stories and interviews with Filipino chefs from around the nation. (Roxas and Pablo are Filipino; Preminger is their "honorary Filipino" friend.)
The Kultura Festival in October was their first major event. Its decidedly modern vibe — on a buzzing stretch of hip Milwaukee Avenue, with DJs spinning hip-hop inside — was in contrast to the Filipino community's other, more traditional cultural events.
"We were very conscious of catering to Filipino-Americans and everybody else," Roxas said. "The older generation Filipinos were complaining, 'Oh, you don't have rice, you're not playing Filipino music, you're not doing the traditional dances.'"
Hapa Chicago, a pop-up specializing in modern Filipino street food such as kare-kare tostadas, will be one of the vendors at the Kultura Kristmas Festival. [Hapa Chicago]
Next year, the Kultura Festival will be "multi-day, in a bigger venue," Roxas said. There are plans to replicate it in other cities, she said.
Tickets to the Kultura Kristmas Festival are $15. Dishes will cost $5-$7. Part of the proceeds will go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
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