Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Last June 9, the Michelin Guide revealed its inaugural edition for Miami, Orlando and Tampa, with a launch party at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Among the 14 One-Michelin-star restaurants, two are Filipino-owned.

Soseki, the 10-seat omakase counter, in the Winter Park neighborhood, was described by the guide, “This tiny operation with Chef Mike Collantes at the helm is an ideal illustration of a contemporary meal expressed by way of an omakase. A laser-like focus on local Florida produce results in a menu that changes monthly.”

Some of these produce may include Florida lionfish, 14-day dry aged bluefin tuna or local purple rice from Jacksonville hand-ground into puffed rice chips to serve with toro and caviar. And sometimes, guests may notice Filipino ingredients like calamansi and coconut vinegar, an initiative by Collantes to inflect parts of his Filipino heritage (his parents were originally from Bulacan and Manila) at his restaurant. “We have [also] introduced dishes like lechon, sinigang and kinilaw to our menu to flow through the courses,” he shared. Collantes also helms a casual Filipino restaurant, Taglish, and organizes Kamayan Supper Clubs.

At Kadence in Audubon Park, the Michelin inspectors note, “The omakase opens with hot dishes and cool sashimi. This is food that’s free-spirited, yet manages to honor the classic methods. Pacing is on point in sashimi like hamachi and hirame. Nigiri, like snapper with lemon and sea salt, will have you yearning for more.”

The restaurant’s co-founders and owners, husband-and-wife tandem Mark Berdin, and Jennifer Banagale-Berdin, who were originally from Bohol and Manila respectively, trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York— Mark at Morimoto and under Masato Shimizu of 15 East; and Jen at Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel and Aquavit. (The third co-founder, Lordfer Lalicon, has since moved on to start a Filipino restaurant, Kaya Orlando, but accepted the Michelin award onstage on behalf of the couple, along with co-owner Jamilyn Salonga Bailey.)

While it is a traditional sushi restaurant, there are those days, when elements of the chefs’ Filipino heritage may make an appearance by way of “a little Jollibee statue show[ing] up on the window sill, a Filipino seaweed into a soup, moringa into an ice cream,” Jennifer shared. “[W]e never intentionally try to infuse Filipino food into our service, however, sometimes it just naturally happens.”

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