Most of us are familiar with Thai cuisine, or Chinese, or even Malaysian. But that of the Philippines? It remains a bit of a mystery.
Crocqhenri Lucero, better known as Crocq, is trying to change that.
The Newcastle singer and musician grew up in a family of talented performers - and followed their lead - but as a child always dreamed of being a chef. He created Mini Pinoy Grill in 2015 and took a small food truck on the road, using his own Filipino marinade recipe.
In 2018 he became serious about the marinade and bottled it. His Mini Pinoy Grill All Purpose Marinade can be found online and at selected retail outlets (minipinoygrill.com.au).
Last year, when gigs started to dry up as venues closed due to COVID-19, Crocq again focused on his passion for food. He has developed a Filipino-style beef jerky (made with his all-purpose marinade) and a limited edition hot sauce somewhat controversially labelled Putang Ina.
If you speak Filipino, you might understand why.
Crocq called on the talents of in-demand Newcastle artist Mitch Revs to design the label for the 200ml bottle of Putang Ina.
"Our tagline for the hot sauce is 'If it doesn't bring the heat, I'm sure your mother will'," Crocq explained with a laugh.
"If you are a chilli lover and even if you're not, this will definitely get you hooked. It's a four out of five chilli rating, so it's hot, but it also has 100 per cent flavour. That's important to me. Food is all about flavour."
And that brings us back to the question of what defines Filipino food.
"Filipino food has its own flavour but it's hard to explain. Nothing usually springs to mind in the mainstream consumer," he said.
"It's influenced by Spanish and Hong Kong cooking and flavours.
"For me, I think Filipino flavours are very well balanced.
"My marinade is sweet, tangy and salty with soy and a slight bite of spice."
Contemplating it further, he adds: "They are refined flavours that usually have minimal ingredients however they pack a very complex, well-balanced punch."
Crocq is busier than ever now that gigs are back on the agenda but is happy to keep the juggling act going. He also posts informative cooking demonstrations on his social media pages and recipes on his website explaining how to best use his marinade.
"Having six months off from performing and then going straight back into normal gigs - it's great, it's just that your body's not used to it," he said, laughing.
"I'd love to have some sort of pop-up restaurant again, maybe a hole in the wall. That would be amazing.
"There might be something in the works but the gigs are coming back in a big way, so time is a problem. But I'll figure it out."
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