Chef Alicia Cooks Bibingka


“Hi Dad!”, Chef Alicia greeted Chef Pedro this morning. “I’d like to cook bibingka. Will you get me some banana leaves?”, she asked. “Sure,” Chef Pedro replied, knowing that they have a banana tree in the backyard.

It must have been windy these past days because all the leaves are torn apart. “These won’t do,” she said. “I will make it happen for you,” he assured her. He pieced together the torn leaves and shaped them into the four tin molds which she has found in the pantry.

Pau must have left these with us when she moved to California,” Chef Alicia said. She wished she had eight instead so she could cook one recipe simultaneously. She tried looking for them in the stores but couldn’t find them. She’s wondering where Pau bought these from.


Originally made in the Philippines and Indonesia, bibingka is one of the rice cakes baked during Christmas and other special occasions. It is usually eaten during breakfast on Christmas season or sometimes served as a dessert or snack.

Different parts of the Philippines have their own versions of bibingka. Some add young coconut slivers or cooked duck egg or both. Others used cassava flour instead of the original glutinous rice.

Today is just Chef Alicia’s second time of cooking bibingka. She said she learned to cook it from a YouTube video. Prior to watching it, she thought it is something difficult to do. When she tried it the first time, she found it surprisingly simple.

She employs the modern way of cooking bibingka, making use of dry glutinous rice flour and tin molds popularized by restaurants. The original way of cooking it entails soaking the rice overnight, allowing it to ferment by the use of wild yeast. Then the rice is ground into a paste using a stone mill. We saw some of these stone mills growing up.


Emboldened by her initial success this morning, Chef Alicia tried to cook a bigger bibingka. This time, she uses a much bigger mold. Whereas on the smaller bibingka, she only baked them for 23 minutes at 375 °F, she found out that she had to bake this for one hour.

When she called Stephen and Kay to try them, they both liked them. Chef Pedro who normally stays away from rice cakes or any cake, loved them. He thinks his wife has a knack for baking. Of course, it’s now Christmas season again. This bibingka is an addition to Chef Alicia’s traditional boat tarts which everyone love.

If you’re interested in the exact recipe Chef Alicia used for both bibingka, please check back on our website. We will post the recipe for every dish we feature on our blogs. Ciao!

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.

Chef Alicia’s Christmas Treats


Chef Alicia’s Christmas treats are boat tarts. She learned to cook these mouth-watering treats from a family friend and neighbor in Passaic, New Jersey – the late Ima Alfonso who’s originally from Pampanga, Philippines.

Pampanga after all is widely considered to be the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Ima’s two daughters who are also Chef Alicia’s friends still live in New Jersey and they too, cook boat tarts.

Boat tarts are Chef Alicia’s most awaited treats because she only prepares them during Christmas season. She used to sell them to friends when her family lived in New Jersey.

The fillings are usually made of cheese, condensed milk, eggs, and nuts. Chef Alicia uses almonds, cashew nuts and walnuts; she personally prefers the latter. Some people even use purple yam and macapuno or young coconut slivers. She tries macapuno sometimes. Chef Pedro likes them.

She only bakes her boat tarts on this special season because it is time-consuming. Very few Filipino-Americans make them because of the scarcity of boat-shaped tin molds in the U.S. Goldilocks, a prominent Filipino bake shop with branches in Canada and the US, sells them here in the US for $12.31/doz.


Boat tarts require one to bake the dough separately from the fillings. Chef Alicia makes sure she lines tin with the right amount of dough. She learned that if the dough is too thick, the boat tart become less delicious. If it is too thin, then it easily breaks, unable to support the fillings.

The Christmas season has began. Christmas is just around the corner. We’ll soon find out if Chef Alicia will make at least one of her family and friends’ dreams come true.

Should you need a recipe for Chef Alicia’s boat tarts, please check back on our website in the near future as we shall be adding the recipe for every dish we feature.

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.

One Last Stop – Wilmington


On their way home from one week of travel, The Traveling Chefs decided to take one more stop, this time by Wilmington. It was highly recommended by their children anyway and it’s not out of their way at all.

Two of The Traveling Chefs children have either lived or visited Wilmington, North Carolina. Both have endorsed its beauty and livability. One of them even said he will live there for good. That was before a big hurricane has submerged this beautiful city for days. But that is another story.

After they took the exit from the highway, The Traveling Chefs found a parking lot close to the Riverwalk, a top attraction in the city. Built along the edge of the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, the Riverwalk offers visitors and residents alike, spectacular views of the water, of the river bridge and of the USS North Carolina Battleship which they toured the day before.

While seated on one of the many available benches on the Riverwalk, Chef Alicia got a call from Arlene who inquired about her guests’ whereabout. “We’re still here in Wilmington!”, declared Chef Alicia. “I can’t believe you guys!”, Arlene exclaimed. From then on, Arlene has no doubts left on how crazy The Traveling Chefs are about travel.


For lunch, The Traveling Chefs went to Port City Java, a coffeehouse franchisor based right here in Wilmington. It’s a specialty coffee roaster which serves coffee beverages, smoothies, shakes, teas, breakfast all day and sandwiches for lunch.

The Traveling Chefs enjoyed the casual ambience of Port City Java, their specialty coffee and sandwiches and above all, their courteous young associates.

Then, The Traveling Chefs took time to catch their breath at the Railroad Museum. There were two other families when they came in and both have children. They all got into the Museum while the Traveling Chefs opted to rest outside. They have read that the Museum is a great attraction for children.

“Let’s go home.”, Chef Pedro finally said. This time, Chef Alicia and he are exhausted.

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.

Savannah, You’re A Beauty

Chef Alicia At Forsyth Park in Savanah by Peter Nunez Photography


Stephen, Kay and Michael have all vouched for the beauty of Savannah. They touted her old yet lasting charm way before The Traveling Chefs set foot on her. The three made them long for Savannah months before their visit.

And now, The Traveling Chefs find themselves in perhaps one of the most photographed sites in Savannah – Forsyth Park, a 30-acre treasure in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District. It is open everyday and there is no entrance fee. On Sundays, one can park on its side streets for free.

Savannah is Georgia’s oldest city. It was once its capital. Its Forsyth Park is lined by century old oak trees. Its famous fountain adds to its popular charm. Millions of tourists flock to this magnificent city every year.


Like many great old cities, Savannah has great buildings. Its Historic District comprises mostly its city limits and is regarded as one of the largest districts of its kind in the US. The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, one of these buildings was dedicated on April 30, 1876.

Enamored by the Historic District, the Traveling Chefs lost track of time. It was already dark when they realized they still have to find a place to park their Expedition where they intended to sleep for the night.

They have read they can park in the city’s Welcome Center which they failed to find. The one they drove to doesn’t allow overnight parking. They learned quite late that there are several welcome centers there.

Once again, Walmart came to their rescue. Although they had to drive for a few miles from the Historic District, they were able to find its closest store and found many other travelers spending the night on its parking lot.

When they woke up the following morning, they saw a Class B RV on a Mercedes Benz chassis parked a few yards away. Two elderly couple emerged from it. They already dressed up and looked fresh from a shower. The Traveling Chefs made a promise to themselves. They will have their own motorhome someday.

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.

A Detour To Jacksonville


From Savannah, Georgia, The Traveling Chefs were supposed to go to Asheville, North Carolina. They took a detour instead to the opposite direction – Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was closer from where they were and most importantly, they will be spending time with some loving people.

“Check the map, which one is closer – Asheville or Jacksonville?”, asked Chef Pedro. When they learned that the latter is closer, they decided to surprise Fred, Chef Alicia’s brother who lives in Jacksonville. Although they have visited Fred many times before, they still wanted to go there because they are close to him and his family.

They only planned to stay for the night. Asheville was likewise recommended by their children to visit. So, they planned to drive to Asheville early the following day. Fred however, had a different plan. He wanted to bring them to places they haven’t heard or seen before.

A TOUR OF THE U.S.S. North Carolina

One of them is the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship which saw action in the Pacific including the Philippines during the 2nd World War. Chef Pedro and Chef Alicia found the tour of the battleship informative and interesting. They took many photos.

Fred also brought the Traveling Chefs to Topsail Island Beach and to one of its piers where many people were fishing. There is an entrance fee to the pier.

Topsail Island in Jacksonville, NC By Peter Nunez Photography

For dinner, Fred and his wife Arlene invited them to eat in the former’s favorite Japanese restaurant – Wasabi Japanese Sushi and Cuisine, currently rated 4.7 stars. The wide selection of their menu and the quality of their food impressed The Traveling Chefs who have a liking for Japanese cuisine.

The Traveling Chef took a detour to Jacksonville to be with relatives

Instead of proceeding to Asheville, The Traveling Chefs embraced the unequaled hospitality of their hosts. They are fortunate to have relatives who care. Nothing is more essential to a healthy and happy life than the quality of our relationships, Chef Pedro recalled a Harvard study.

In life, The Traveling Chefs have found it’s not easy to say goodbye to the people they love who love them in return. So, even though they skipped Asheville, they had no regrets. Their one week vacation is over. It’s time to go home.

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.

They Drive By Tybee Island

The Traveling Chefs’ DRIVE BY Tybee Island

Going north from Amelia Island, Florida, The Traveling Chefs have initially thought of going to Asheville, North Carolina. They planned of getting there by way of Savannah, Georgia. They drove by Tybee Island first.

Before they reached Savannah though, they saw a sign to Tybee Island. Without a moment’s notice, they decided to drop by there. Chef Pedro has heard of its famous lighthouse, just one of the seven remaining lighthouses built during the colonial era.

They were not disappointed when they got there. Standing 144 ft tall, the lighthouse was first built in 1736 in the mouth of the Savannah river in the northeastern part of Georgia.


While enjoying the scene, The Traveling Chefs met a couple who are also residents of Florida. The couple told them they also love to travel and they own a trailer RV. Their new friend (the woman) took the above photo.

Whenever Floridians meet and their conversations become longer, sooner or later, they will talk about hurricanes. The couple mentioned whenever there is an approaching hurricane, they skip the state. Their trailer RV enables them to do so. Their revelation boosted The Traveling Chefs’ desire to buy one.

While there, The Traveling Chefs enjoyed a hearty lunch at Fannies On The Beach, a beachfront restaurant. They had quite a selection of seafoods in their menu. They can’t remember what they ordered for main dish but they’re pretty sure they had coconut shrimps for appetizer.


The early afternoon sun shone fiercely and the long sandy walk deterred Chef Alicia from going with Chef Pedro to take photos of the beautiful pier. He has previously seen photos taken by others in this very spot. Deprived of his constant model (Chef Alicia), he patiently waited for a stranger to pass by. Finally, a woman stopped at the spot he wished someone would.

Unknown Woman In Tybee Island Pier by Peter Nunez Photography

There it is. Picture perfect! A beautiful moment of an unknown woman framed for eternity. Now, the Traveling Chefs can leave for Savannah.

For deeper insights on The Traveling Chefs, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the first page of our website.