5 Filipino Restaurateurs Who Made it Big Abroad

Joanna Marie O. Santos
September 05, 2023

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The rise of Filipino restaurateurs abroad might seem slow to many, but it sure is steady. In recent years, many talented Filipino restaurant owners and chefs have been making noise and securing their spots in the international culinary scene. The exceptional and extraordinary dishes of the Philippines are not appreciated inside Filipino homes anymore. Nowadays, they’re the highlight of restaurants located in the biggest cities worldwide.


The global culinary audience is not new to the richness and diversity of Filipino cuisine, and many Filipino restaurateurs are working hard to expand the reach of our food culture to a bigger market. These restaurateurs are hardworking and their journey is not just about culinary excellence but is also a testament to the indomitable Filipino spirit painted with colors of hospitality, vitality, and, of course, good food. In this article, we will showcase 5 Filipino restaurateurs who are making waves in the international culinary scene. 


1. Carlo Lamagna 


Image from Portland Monthly


Born in the Philippines, Carlo Lamaga grew up in Michigan before flying back to the Philippines at age 11 to continue his education. It was then that he discovered his love for cooking and the amazing and diverse tastes of Filipino cuisine. 


In 2021, Lamgana was named one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs. He started his own restaurant, Magna Kusina which is based in Portland. 


2. Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid


Image from Archipelago


Aaron Versoza and Amber Manuguid are the owners of Archipelago, which is a restaurant in which the chefs like to showcase the diversity of their food and Filipino-American identities. 


“On the restaurant’s site, the owners write: “In the US they call us Filipino; in the Philippines, they call us American. We exist in this in-between of identities, always looking one way or the other.” the owners share on their website. 


Archipelago is a fine-dining restaurant based in Seattle. In 2021, it was included in the New York Times’ list of the most exciting restaurants in America.


3. Margarita Fores


Image from Tatler Asia


Recognized as Asia’s Best Female Chef, Margarita Fores specializes in Filipino-Italian cuisine that is popular worldwide. As a restaurateur, Fores founded Cibo, with roots in catering before launching her critically acclaimed restaurant. She also owns individual restaurants outside the Cibo franchise. 


Internationally, Fores is not new to making the headlines. In 2014, she showcased Pinoy dishes at the Festa Asturiana in Forlimpopoli, Italy. She also represented the Philippines at the Salone del Gusto Y Terra Madre in Turin, which is the world's largest food and wine fair.


4. Tom Cunanan


Image from Starchefs


Tom Cunana’s Bad Saint was crowned the second-best restaurant in America by Bon Appétit magazine in 2016. In 2019, he received the much coveted James Beard Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award.


A few years later, he founded PogiBoy which is a Filipino restaurant filled with creative dishes inspired by a popular local fast-food franchise, Jollibee. The project is in collaboration with another Filipino-American chef Paolo Dungca. 


5. Eric Valdez


Image from ABS-CBN


The owner of the newest Pinoy restaurant in New York, Eric Valdez is a talented chef who first started as an intern in New Orleans as what he considered a ‘leap of faith.’ Now, Valdez is the owner of Naks, which is a Pinoy restaurant sending big waves in the New York food scene by serving iconic and truly Filipino dishes like dinuguang kambing, ginataang kohol, igado and even the iconic soup no.5.


Remarkable Restaurateurs


These five amazing chefs have made important contributions to sending the wonderfully diverse cuisine of the Philippines into the international spotlight. Their work is significant in our society as their exceptional talents and determination have succeeded in showcasing the beauty of the Filipino palette. With these 5 remarkable restauranteurs, we are reminded that there is a world of flavorful delights right here in our own kitchens.