Chef Genevieve Villamora reveals secret behind success of Bad Saint
Pinay chef Genevieve Villamora, part-owner of the crowd-favorite Filipino restaurant Bad Saint in DC, revealed how they get things done at Bad Saint.
She explained that it’s the memories that makes their dishes unique, personal and straight from the heart.
“At Bad Saint, we use our personal food memories as the starting point when we approach the iconic dishes of Filipino cuisine”, the restaurateur said in a publication for Bon Appetit.
She linked kare-kare to the bond amongst Fil-Am community in the US, as she recalls the nostalgic memories the popular Pinoy dish brings back.
“A single bite of it conjures a slideshow of events from my childhood—birthdays, Christmases, and golden wedding anniversaries. Its taste is synonymous with Filipino-American community: family and friends bound together by the experience of immigration and the longing for togetherness”, she said.
Villamora explained that her business partners, Tom Cunanan and partner Nick Pimentel, ensures that they are able to capture only the genuine cooking methods from elders and their mothers’ cook books.
“Bridging the gap between our memories and a restaurant dish is where all the research, hard work, and culinary technique comes in. Our chef, Tom Cunanan, has gleaned wisdom from YouTube videos of wrinkled lolas (grandmas) cooking in outdoor kitchens in small villages in the Philippines, demonstrating proper technique. He also has his mother’s book of recipes, with her notes written in the margins. The taro root in our kare-kare is one of her improvisations”, she said.
“That aside, our version kicks it old-school. We roast and grind peanuts instead of using peanut butter. We make our own bagoong (shrimp paste) instead of store-bought. The super-traditional route gets us the vivid flavors we’re after. When I try our kare-kare at the restaurant, it tastes both familiar and new, which is exactly the experience we wish for our diners”, she explained.
Bad Saint was tagged last year as the second best restaurant in the US.