An Evening in the Phillipines

photo of culinary students

Filipino culture was the star of the city of Bismarck Human Relations Committee’s 2018 cultural dinner, "An Evening in the Philippines." Held at Legacy High School on Nov. 1, the event was a celebration of one of the many cultures represented in North Dakota. More than 70 attendees savored a flavorful three-course dinner that provided a taste of the Philippines.

The scene was jubilant. Women donned in vibrant dresses performed the salakot dance, and plates offered traditional Filipino fare from crispy pork lumpia and pancit, a dish made with chicken breast, vegetables and rice noodles, to soy sauce and vinegar-glazed chicken adobo. Attendees also enjoyed two desserts — leche flan and bilo bilo, a warm coconut milk-based soup with fruit, tapioca pearls and rice balls.

"The birthday noodles (pancit) and the bilo bilo were definitely the most unique," says Damianna Byerly, junior, Legacy High School. "The bilo bilo was unlike anything I’ve ever had before, and I never knew people from the Philippines ate birthday noodles to elongate their life. That was really cool to learn."

Now in its third year, the cultural dinner is a partnership between the Human Relations Committee and the Legacy High School culinary arts program. Each year, the event highlights a different culture represented in the community. The first event, held in 2016, celebrated Indian culture. In 2017, the event offered a taste of Liberia. The goal is to recognize the value of a diverse community.

"This is the third year we’ve partnered with the Bismarck Human Relations Committee on this event," says Family and Consumer Science Department Chair Kim Hertz, Legacy High School. "I appreciate the continued partnership, because its such a great value to our students in so many ways. It’s good for us to become aware of the different cultures represented in our community, and, as far as lifelong skills, they learn about teamwork and the effort it takes to create something that’s very special."

Each year, community members volunteer to share their culture and teach the culinary arts students how to prepare an authentic dinner. This year, four members of the Bismarck-Mandan Filipino community volunteered their time. Agnes Moore was one of those volunteers. Born and raised in the Philippines, she moved to North Dakota in 2002.

"My favorite part of the experience was meeting the students and seeing in them a genuine interest to learn about another culture and a sense of adventure in trying the food," says Moore.

Following an in-class demonstration, nine students mastered the recipes before unveiling their hard work at the main event.

"Different cultures prepare foods differently, so it was really helpful to see how they prepared the food," says Byerly. "I enjoyed cooking for others and allowing them to experience a culture they’ve probably never experienced before."

Moore says the students did an excellent job and everything tasted just right. That comes as no surprise to Hertz, who says her students continue to impress her, year after year.

"I’m just really proud of this group. It makes me really proud at the end of the night, when you see the smiles on the kid’s faces, and you see how proud they are of what they accomplished. There’s nothing greater. It’s absolutely amazing."

The Human Relations Committee is already planning next year’s cultural dinner, which will celebrate Guatamalan cuisine and culture.


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