Love for one’s country of origin doesn’t end when one decides to migrate and make Canada their permanent home. Bennet Miemban-Ganata started her journey in Canada when she was posted at the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver as a Cultural Officer and Executive Assistant. Her infatuation and appreciation with her overseas experiences, as well as recognizing the significance of one’s heritage, notably inspired her to share her roots of the Filipino culture through the most renowned specialities of the Philippines — Filipino cuisine. After resigning from the DFA and deciding to stay in Canada, Bennet decided to enter the food business with the help of her husband and friends with hopes to turn a big, collective, and long-awaited dream into reality.
Born and raised in the coastal province of Baler, Aurora, Bennet saw her post as an opportunity to be exposed to a myriad of cultures from almost everywhere in the world. Because of this, Bennet thought of presenting Vancouver with the best of Philippine cuisine through Plato Filipino.
“I started Plato Filipino with the help of my husband, Joseph Ganata, a culinary graduate, and his friend from Culinary school, Jay Mecha, our closest friend, Rio Gomez, who became our family in Vancouver and with the full support of my family, Miemban Family,” she shares. “We developed our own custom style of this cuisine for Filipinos who missed the carinderia type of eating and who generally enjoyed consuming traditional Filipino food in all its glory.”
Bennet says she always had a dream for Filipinos to promote their culture to others. “It has been my dream that we as immigrants make our motherland proud without forgetting where we came from. It’s truly been such a blessing to be given a chance to serve our kababayans by putting up a business that will remind them of home; a business that will continue to remind and share the heart of our Filipino culture — Filipino cuisine.
“I think it’s extremely important to keep our heritage alive and thriving no matter where we are in the world. Something I appreciate about our culture is that we are so bound by love and so unified in family and community, because through that we find our food such a fundamental part of expressing how much we appreciate our culture,” Bennet adds.
Bennet says that she, her husband and their friends have had the business in mind for a long time, and that it is such a blessing that they get to open a restaurant to express their love and pride of being Filipino through our special way of cooking and sharing Filipino food, especially for the younger generations.
Bennet says she got her love for food from her Lola, and she had the chance to volunteer and help out in selling Filipino pastries around the neighbourhood. “I got to make and sell my very own halo-halo, pastillas, yema, polvoron and ube candy. I could even cook any ingredients I could find in our refrigerator. I practically grew up surrounded by family members who loved cooking very much.” When she met her husband, her love for food inspired her to go further with her dream.
Her hope is for Filipino food to finally be recognized in the mainstream of culinary favourites in Vancouver. “There is so much to love about Filipino cuisine, it would be so great to see how far we can share the wonders of Filipino food in this world, and there is no doubt that it would not be more popular in the future than it already is today.” Bennet says that if we were to recommend Filipino food to those who do not know it, we should tell them to try everything.
“Filipino food is comforting, hearty, saporous, innovative and abundant in variety! Our foods are also well-known for being involved in a lot of culinary fusions and really, our foods are already a fusion from other cultures when we date back to our historic roots. Filipino cuisine is a multi-cultural selection of many influences — from which are mostly derived from the Spanish and Chinese cultures. But we have grown to create and serve our own distinct tastes. Filipino food, again, is a way of expressing love, joy and connection between family and community by indulging in this rich commodity of our heritage, that is why every time you visit a Filipino household, it is common courtesy to invite guests to eat immediately! It is one of our ways of showing appreciation and respect.”
Bennet says that it is such a great blessing for Filipino food businesses to get the opportunity to showcase their own versions of Pinoy dishes to the community during the Filipino Restaurant Month put together by the Philippine Consulates all over Canada. “Being involved in these events pave the way to further promote and establish our cuisine internationally while giving Filipino businesses a chance to celebrate their love of providing these dishes in their own way.”
Plato Filipino shines best when it is able to share families’ celebrations through parties at their place. Bennet says that she and her crew enjoy the whole process from start to finish from sharing favourite foods, designing grand decorations, planning the games and most importantly celebrating with our family and friends. With a deep enthusiasm for Filipino culture and cuisine, why wouldn’t we want to eat from a Filipino plate?