Locavore’s Kel Zaguirre Lends His Hand at a Convenience Store Cookout

July 9, 2020

Chefs plan menus months in advance; even spontaneous dish ideas are refined to the last detail before they ever come to the pass. Taking control out of the equation show’s a true chef’s skill, their dexterity at navigating flavors that might be entirely new to them, or combinations they might not be able to meld together.


Kel Zaguirre has a flair for the hedonistic. Both his restaurants are an instant success story, creating what people in Manila can’t get enough of: beautiful ingredients that make for some seriously sultry dishes. Most of his plates require tedious development to create things the restaurant scene hasn’t seen before; a carefully calibrated chicken and waffle ice cream sandwich at Fat for example, or Locavore’s flagship sizzling sinigang which turns the broth into a thick, sour gravy. But with only an hour to think on his feet, and the convenience store as his ingredient pantry, can Zaguirre dream up something as wildly imaginative as the compositions in his kitchen?


With a liberal dash of ramen powder, sesame oil, and shochu, Zaguirre churned out vermicelli noodles with a side of umami chicken that was a potently salty, sour, and sweet mix of Asian flavors that could easily make its way onto any of those fusion menus popping around the city. This is the perfect showing from a guy whose wild ideas turn into ultimately delicious ones, showing off skill that only someone with a palate like his can achieve. All this complexity in under an hour? Try it yourself.


Procedure: Noodles

  1. Soak vermicelli noodles and set aside.
  2. Rehydrate tamarind candy to make paste.
  3. Mince onion and garlic, then deglaze with shochu.
  4. Add coconut water, tamarind paste, and Yakisoba powder.
  5. Add oil.
  6. Reduce.
  7. Add chopped scallions, honey, and sesame oil.
  8. To the sauce, add the vermicelli.

Procedure: Chicken

  1. Remove skin.
  2. Place chicken in a bowl and add ramen powder, fish sauce, sesame oil, honey, shochu, and pepper.
  3. Leave to marinate for around 10 minutes.
  4. After marinating, pan-grill quickly.


  1. Place the vermicelli on a plate, then add chicken pieces.
  2. Dress with a fried egg, and fried pieces of Vienna sausage.
  3. Add pieces of sliced grapes, cashews, and garlic peanuts.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed Snacku (fine enough to make a powder), and any remaining ramen powder.
  5. Garnish with lime.
Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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