Joaquin Soler reopens BBQ resto in Chicago to feature Pinoy roots
Filipino chef Joaquin Soler has reopened his Smalls Smoke Shack, a 480-square-foot space in the Irving Park neighborhood in Chicago, to incorporated his Filipino roots.
“We were plugging Filipino food anyway,” Soler told Chicago Tribune. “It was in the sides. We had Filipino pork barbecue that was really popular.”
“We’ve built a real rapport with guests — they’ve grown to trust us, and they’re willing to follow along as we introduced them to new stuff”, he added.
He also said that “Filipino food is some of the most comforting food, and I’m making stuff I like”, being a Manila native.
“It’s never been a big deal to me, Filipino food making it mainstream,” he said. “I was eating and making this food before others because, well, I’m Filipino.”
He also added in the interview that he intends to let people know more about Filipino cuisine. “That’s something I hope people understand, the regionality,” Soler says. “My version of adobo is going to be different from another person’s.”
He aims to highlight flavors and uniqueness. “I’m not trying to reinvent these dishes,” says the chef, “but there are techniques that bring out something different.”