Kasama, a Filipino restaurant in Chicago, has earned a prestigious Michelin star. It’s considered the world’s first-ever Michelin-starred Filipino restaurant.
The owners of Kasama, husband-and-wife chefs Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, have many things to be thankful for. Not only is their business doing well; they just earned one MICHELIN Star in April 2022. They were rated as “One MICHELIN Star: High quality cooking, worth a stop!”
What is a Michelin Star?
A Michelin Star is considered a hallmark of culinary excellence given by the famed Michelin Guide. They award 1, 2, and 3 Michelin stars; depending on the chef’s talent and dishes. The highest rating is 3 Michelin stars given for “superlative cooking of chefs.” For chefs, a Michelin Star is a badge of honor and a reward for exceptional cooking.
Kasama, the world’s first Michelin-starred Filipino restaurant
Chef Tim grew up in Chicago but his mother is from Imus, Cavite. Meanwhile, his wife, Chef Genie is a Korean who was born in New Orleans. Together, they serve traditional Filipino dishes with a modern, contemporary spin.
Kasama opened its door during the height of the pandemic in 2020 to bring Filipino foods to more people in Chicago. True to the meaning of “Kasama”, the chefs partnered and worked together to come up with a unique Filipino culinary experience.
Chef Tim explained on Michelin, “We named the restaurant Kasama because, apart from myself and my wife Genie combining forces into running this restaurant, we also combined the concepts we wanted to do.”
“We wanted to do Filipino food, and she wanted to do French pastries. And so Kasama, meaning ‘together’ in Tagalog, made sense for us. It was just fitting, and it made so much sense to use the word,” he added.
Chef Tim’s love for Pinoy foods
Among the couple’s food inspirations is Chef Tim’s Filipina mother who loves to cook. While he was raised abroad, Chef Tim grew up eating her mom’s pancit, mami, and many others.
“My mother is an amazing cook. She’s always been the person at family parties where everybody looked forward to her food. They always praise her cooking, especially her pancit, arroz caldo, and mami soup (noodle soup),” says Chef Tim.
With their Michelin star, Chef Tim hopes they are making an impact in helping break the stigma on Filipino food. He wants Kasama to help bring people close to each other and foster togetherness. He hopes they get to see more people enjoying Filipino foods.
“I want to change the stigma about Filipino food being cheap and a little overwhelming while staying true to the culture. I also want to emphasize the togetherness that food brings, like family and giving back to people,” he adds.