When people leave the country for greener pastures, coming home and making their own mark is usually one of the things they want to accomplish next—and that’s exactly what chef Paolo Garcia did. After a three-year stint at a Lebanese fine dining restaurant in Dubai (and at the insistence of his sister, Willie), chef Paolo came home and opened Balik Bukid Farm and Kitchen.
The farm-to-table restaurant uses ingredients from local, small-scale farmers to create slow-cooked, organic, heirloom dishes in its push for natural farming and sustainable living—twin advocacies proudly seen in its menu and interiors.
Designed by the chef’s sister, Willie, 80 percent of the restaurant’s interiors are made from upcycled materials. From old plastic wrappers transformed into chairs and placemats to recycled tiles that now make up the mosaic floor, sustainability and a love for the earth are the overarching themes in Balik Bukid.
Chef Paolo’s menu consists of family heirloom recipes and laboriously-made dishes that showcase the chef’s ancestry and the diversity of Filipino cuisine.
In the restaurant’s version of the Maguindanao dish “kagikit,” the rice is cooked with turmeric to give it a vibrant yellow color, and is topped with toasted coconut flakes and chicken. The coconut flakes and chicken are then bound to the rice with a salted egg paste and rolled in a banana leaf.
In an interview with Mabuhay Magazine, chef Paolo explained that there’s a sense of guardianship, as well as an educational element, in what they do. “The Filipino palate has changed – our children don’t even know what our food used to taste like. At Balik Bukid, we explain our dishes to our guests before they order,” he says.
Balik Bukid Farm and Kitchen is located at Quimpo Blvd., Davao City