Kartilya’s Undeniable Success in Revolutionizing Filipino Cuisine

Traditional Filipino cuisine has been around for centuries with its rich collection of flavorful viands made from the best local ingredients and techniques. Admittedly, Filipino cuisine still flies low in the global culinary map—Kartilya is here to change all that.

Kartilya’s Undeniable Success in Revolutionizing Filipino Cuisine

Situated at the heart of Bonifacio Global City, Kartilya derives its name from the handbook of the Philippines’ gallant Katipuneros. The restaurant, headed by part-owner and executive chef Lica Ibarra, puts fresh and modern twists to well-loved local dishes, making them worthy of the global spotlight.

Determined to change the perception towards Filipino cuisine, Kartilya revolutionizes the Philippine dining experience by serving authentic local dishes and viands that fuse local with international cooking.

“Usually, when it’s Filipino food, people tend to think it’s boring. In Kartilya, we modernized Filipino cuisine. That’s why we call ourselves a dining revolution. We are trying to change how people feel, taste, and look at Filipino food,” Lica says.

Kartilya sets itself apart by providing a holistic and truly Filipino dining experience. From the restaurant’s interiors to its menu, everything is authentically Filipino or primarily inspired by existing Philippine viands. Even its bar, helmed by Proudly Promdi, offers native liquors from different provinces.

“Serving Filipino food is something that everyone should love and be proud of. […] You have to start with your roots before you start learning other cuisines and techniques. That’s the only way you are going to get your own identity in the kitchen,” Lica says.

Lica learned how to cook from her grandmother, so it is no surprise for her to include heirloom dishes into Kartilya’s string of viands. One of these heirloom recipes is the rich and mouth-watering Corned Beef Kansi, which Lica serves at Kartilya the same way her grandmother did for their family.

“Growing up, my grandmother would always cook Filipino dishes, and they are not the easy-to-cook dishes that you can just make in minutes. Everything is slow-cooked. It’s not just the ingredients and the flavor, it’s also about the technique of how it is cooked,” she says.

Other heirloom recipes in Kartilya’s menu are the Kare-Kare ni Lola and Boneless Bangus. Presented on signature platters, Kartilya’s “Dirty” Rice and Liempo Queso Fundido are treats to the senses with supremely delectable and rich tastes.

Meanwhile, Lica’s experience as a contestant in MasterChef Asia opened her eyes to what diners want to eat and feel when entering restaurants. Today, people eat with their eyes first, so Kartilya works hard to present its dishes in a beautiful, modern, and novel way.

According to Lica, when people come in and find the food on point, visually and in taste, they talk about it, share it, and post about it on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

“It is difficult to make a Filipino dish pretty because it is delivered in big servings on a big [family] platter. Here, we try our best to make Filipino food appetizing not only in the way it looks but on the way it tastes. I added a lot of spices to the [recipes] and we put our own stamp to traditional dishes,” Lica shares.

She adds that Kartilya takes advantage of people’s savviness for social media to spread the word about what the restaurant offers. Lica identifies Instagram and Facebook as two of the best and easiest ways to market a business, admitting that using them for Kartilya has been quite effective.

“If you have a business, especially if it’s a restaurant business, you have to put yourself out there. […] Your customers are your best endorsers and these are organically grown endorsements that you don’t have to pay for,” she remarks.

On another note, Lica advises entrepreneurs that if they want to stay in the restaurant industry, they have to be really passionate about food. She tells restaurateurs to consider what food they want to serve and who their customers are, in addition to knowing how the business and its finances work.

“[You] should know your passion. […] know what your specialty is, what you like cooking, what you like to taste, what you like eating, and what you are good at,” Lica says. “Putting up your restaurant is no joke. It’s hard work. You have to be dedicated and passionate about it. It’s not just a passion project, it’s also a business.”

It’s high time for Philippine cuisine to take centerstage, but it’s only possible through the people’s support. As business owners, you and your restaurant can be successful too, both in making your business profitable and influencing your customers to adopt a better mindset towards anything Filipino.

Like Lica and Kartilya, maybe you and your business can start with a simple idea: love local.

Know of any restaurant that has a success story worth telling? Share it with us at createyoursuccess@globe.com.ph!