Power Pivot: Chicago-based Filipino restaurant 'Kasama' has received a Michelin Star - Lifestyle Asia

It’s America’s first Filipino restaurant with the accolade.

Kasama, a Filipino restaurant in Chicago, has earned a Michelin star—a highly regarded accolade in the culinary world.

The fine-dining spot debuted in July 2020 by husband and wife Tim Flores and Genie Kwon. According to the Michelin Guide’s review, Kasama’s dinner tasting is an evolution of their wildly popular café, reflecting their training, experience, and heritage.”

READ ALSO: LA Exclusive: Asia’s Best Female Chef DeAille Tam Shares Amuse-Bouche On Michelin-Star Fine Dining

Unexpected achievement

Initially, the couple’s idea was to serve breakfast pasties by Kwon and snacks like sandwiches and lumpia from Flores. However, the menu expanded to offering a 13-course dinner featuring Kinilaw, Talaba, Nilaga, and Halo-Halo.

“So many people have teared up at dinner,” Flores told Eater Chicago. “It was never my goal; the goal was just to make good food I grew up eating, not to help Filipino Americans get in touch with their roots.”

In fact, when Michelin delivered him the news, he thought Kasama would be included in the Bib Gourmand (Michelin Guide’s list for good but cheaper than fine dining restaurants) despite their pricey $185 tasting menu. 

Pandemic pivot

Although Kasama has been open for almost two years, the dinner tasting was only offered five months ago—a pivot for the establishment to survive during the pandemic. 

The couple told the publication that it worked by cutting labor costs by serving fewer guests with more expensive meals. 

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Kwon added. “This is something that came out of our response to the COVID surge, but at the same time, we wanted to provide the best experience we could, and it was a deliberate choice we made.”

However, Kasama realizes that receiving a Michelin star as a pandemic-born restaurant is an achievement. “To make it here and to be recognized by the @michelinguide is truly beyond anything we could have ever imagined,” the establishment wrote on their Instagram page. 

Kasama is America’s first Filipino-themed restaurant with a Michelin star.

Banner photo from @kasamachicago on Instagram.

Download this month's LIFESTYLE ASIA digital copy from:
Order your print copy of this month's LIFESTYLE ASIA Magazine:
Subscribe via [email protected]