If only Texas is a jeepney ride away

Lumpiang shanghai

Apart from the stewed meats like menudo and afritada, the sweet spaghetti, the hotdogs on skewers set on a head of a cabbage, and the famous lechon, lumpiang shanghai is among the regulars of the Filipino feast, whether it is for a birthday celebration, wedding, baptism, or local fiesta. Lumpiang shanghai or spring rolls, although apparent among the Philippines’ Asian neighbors, hold a special space among Filipinos’ hearts (and tummy) that wherever they go, they cook it and share it with others, be they fellow Filipinos or foreigner friends.

After gracing the tables of celebrities such as Cardi B and Florence Pugh, the crispy, flavor-packed lumpia is set to be the new star of the Fourth of July banquet in the US, well, at least in this Texas-based restaurant Be More Pacific Filipino Kitchen and Bar (BMP).

Over the weekend, Filipino netizens shared on social media the restaurant’s ad about its upcoming lumpia eating contest, expressing their desire to participate if only Houston is a jeepney ride away. To know more about the event, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with Giovan Gabriel Tobias Cuchapin, founder and owner of BMP, on the power the lumpiang shanghai has to take Philippine cuisine to the global stage, starting with his lumpia eating contest.

Photo from Roveen Abante’s Facebook page

Where did the lumpia eating contest idea come from? Are you heading it?

The lumpia eating contest is an BMP idea and is organized by BMP. It came to my head one day in 2017 at our first restaurant in Austin, Texas. I was just brainstorming some contests and events to boost revenue. BMP’s main goal is to do our part to introduce Filipino flavors and culture to the masses (hoping to get Filipino food on the same level as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Indian food. All these cuisines were relatively unknown in the US, we believe Filipino food is still in the beginning phases of breaking the barrier to enter into the mainstream). So whatever we do, we always try to make sure there is some common ground with the general public in order to increase the public’s initial attention. If the general public knows anything about Filipino food/culture, chances are they know what lumpia is! Lumpia could be one of the gateways to putting Filipino food on the map. I have thought about hosting a lumpia rolling class as well, but I thought doing a lumpia eating contest in the same manner of the famous Nathan’s Hotdog Eating contest would be the most appealing. At our location in Austin, July 4th weekend was a time for families to BBQ at home and spend time with the family, so we never felt we could execute the contest in Austin. BMP’s Houston’s location in the Historic Heights seemed to be a better fit.

Do Americans in your area love lumpia?
Yes, the general public in our area love lumpia. I think lumpia is loved everywhere! We sell in the neighborhood of 160,000 lupia a year (not including catering) with the four varieties we have. As stated above, if Americans know anything Filipino, they know lumpia. We wanted to choose something that was already familiar to the public and at the same time “Filipino.”

For you, what is it with lumpia that makes it a favorite by many?

It’s simple, crunchy, fried (if not another version), and delicious. It’s easy to introduce lumpia to someone that has not had Filipino food before as they most likely have had something similar as in egg rolls.

Who will be attending the event? And apart from the eating contest, what activities will you be doing?

The main purpose of the event is to get a couple of neighboring businesses in the area to help promote their brand and create more business and visibility for all.

For the contestants, we have a representative from:

1. Ninja Ramen (Bar & Ramen spot)

2. The Kracker Nuttz (legendary Houston DJ group)

3. Seaside Poke (the best poke in Houston IMO. They do poke with subtle non traditional touches that puts poke over the top)

4. Hatchet Ratchet (an Axe throwing gaming experience)

5. Blood Bros. BBQ (Traditional Texas BBQ w/ an Asian twist)

6. Houston Rockets (In game MC of home games)

7. A BMP representative

8. The last spot is open to the general public as we had hundreds of inquiries asking how to join the contest. Directions to enter the contest are on our Facebook and Instagram account.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/06/28/lumpia-eating-contest-to-be-held-in-texas-to-celebrate-fourth-of-july/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lumpia-eating-contest-to-be-held-in-texas-to-celebrate-fourth-of-july)