Be Adobo: An Interview with Philipp Subang
“Adobo" is a word that every Filipino knows or can relate to. It may be your favourite dish or ‘go-to’ meal. Just as the Germans have Bratwurst, the French have beef bourguignon, and Czechs have goulash - Filipinos have adobo. For Philipp Subang, adobo is not just a dish. Although born in Bielefeld, Germany, Philipp’s family is originally from Pampanga in the Philippines. That is how he inherited his culinary genes. He started ADOBO in Germany with the aim of being the first and only Filipino fusion catering company, combining the culinary art, the culture and ‘joie de vivre’ of Filipinos in one package. I had the pleasure of interviewing Philipp and got to learn more about his vision and passion for Filipino food.
How was ADOBO conceptualized? Are you fond of cooking?
ADOBO was not designed easily… First idea was to do something Filipino, so the name ADOBO came along because every Filipino knows this word. When I was younger, I wanted to design furniture, but I realized that I had a passion for good food. Bad food can spoil your day and your mood… So the answer is, yes [I like to cook], and of course eat good food! My great interest is making Filipino food more popular here in Germany. [Although] that will take time.
Could you elaborate on the three kinds of catering ADOBO provides?
Street food style is a compostable bowl. The Kitchen party is where you will learn how it is made. We always use locations with an open kitchen, or the kitchen is always in the guest room so that everyone can see how we cook. And lastly, Fine dining is the cheesecake in different textures — Michelin star cuisine.
What are the specialities of ADOBO, apart from the traditional chicken adobo dish?
We don't just deliver food; we deliver a little bit of home, a little bit of paradise and a little bit of lifestyle. That's the vibe when you book ADOBO.
How do you maintain the authenticity of your Filipino dishes?
The preparation, the marinade and the basic idea is always authentic, followed by the professional [aspect]. For example, our Chicken Adobo Wings are traditionally marinated but are baked crispy — conjuring up a perfect glaze from the marinade, where you will then find flavours such as smoked paprika and calamansi.
What would you say are the most popular among your dishes in Germany?
Definitely the crispiness of our pork — Lechon Kawali with Sinigang Glace & Cucumber Sawsawan, and our Supreme Adobo Chicken Wings.
Do you feel that you had to adapt more to the taste of your clientele in Germany?
Copying an original taste 100% from another country will not always work. Original food from abroad tends to be more expensive since a lot is imported. The original taste and preparation will [probably] not satisfy the majority [of people] in Germany, so we simply gave the [Filipino] authentic taste and look a modern twist which appeals to our German customers.
I heard that you received an award for your food truck participation at an event. Could you elaborate?
We unexpectedly won a few - ROTHAUS Food Truck of the Year 2018/2019, 2nd Best Street Food Concept Germany 2019 - YUMMY! Award, some Papstar Street Food Awards. 12 awards in total. The jury always loved the taste and style of our food and that’s how we won.
What are your prospects for ADOBO as Germany slowly opens businesses during these
challenging times? What are your plans for ADOBO after the pandemic?
I think we all have to restructure… Right now it's important to hang in there, to constantly adapt, to find new ways and [most] importantly to keep a cool head. [In terms of future plans], we are planning to expand.
On a closing note, what signature recipe or favourite dish would you like to share with our readers?
I have so many favourite dishes and I haven’t decided yet [which is] the best. Of course, I can’t get enough of Adobo. Big love! :) [As a closing note,] to cook with love is the best recipe to make people happy.
And there you have it… ADOBO has certainly made a name for itself in Germany, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear the word ‘ADOBO' once they venture out across Europe. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in Frankfurt, keep an eye out for the ADOBO food truck, or for our kababayans in Germany — you know who to call to cater your next event. Don’t only eat adobo — be adobo!