In the kitchen with Chef Jojo Manalo. One of three Filipino cafes in Tooting Broadway Market opened in Jan 2019 by 35 year old jojo.
Jojo's been a chef for 18 years. Came to London in 2011 with his wife who's a nanny, and 3 kids - via Saudi. Before working in the market Jojo was head caterer for the Chelsea football team (photos pridely pinned to the wall). He wanted to start doing street food and a bar in Tooting Market for the evening stream - skewers and Kalamansi Margaritas please, and planned to get even more dishes up on those screens to teach people about food from 7641 islands that make up the Philippines... But then COVID.
Now - the restaurant is closed as he couldn't afford to keep it going. The adaptability of these spaces are incredible. Without gov. help they are fighting to pivot, and each in their own ways. Everyones story in that market is different. The ones who are doing the most to actually deepen our knowledge and do something more powerful, share their cultures before the opportunity fades are less off from it. Jojo says most of his customers are Filipino however alot of the Filipino community were forced to stay at home in COVID, BAME being more vulnerable and lots working in hospitals which JoJo dropped food to in the peak. Many have started to sell their own cooked food and groceries, adding to competition. He's staying hopeful - and that place is still beautiful; jojo dives into his jar of complimentary deep fried garlic roast peanuts while he talks (true hospitality) and walks over to the giant treasure trove freezer to pull out £4.90 tapsilog and tocino which hes introduced for people to take home. He'll also tell you how to cook with his sauces, you won't get any of this in Sainsburys, if your moneys going anywhere please try and direct it into businesses like jojos, your own belly and brain will benefit from as transaction becomes story.
Bending but not breaking: just opened new space next door, extension of shop with more groceries and the lockdown freezer chest selling home meals - selling scooters outside now too! and some amazing filipino brooms found in brixton. He talks about the Broadway Market 'regeneration proposal': "Of course won't help. Rents will go up, already struggling; no support from the market, same old". This airport terminal looming structure seems to mock the businesses who are motoring onwards, adapting, understanding changing crowds - they should be the ones leading any 'regeneration' (not gourmet burgers and Oodles) "where sadly some of the businesses have failed" 🤮 - what disrespect to them; they're not failing they're nailing whilst trying to.keep sane and sailing, we should "focus on maintaining the diversity of in the spaces already created, championing individuality", give them financial support.
Such fucking gems in here, more it gets harder the more that are going to have to stop and won't return. Prices of Filipino groceries increased and harder to ship in but if puts price up "customers wont understand, they don't understand" when comes to intangible value of everything that's involved. Round the corner @chelsangel_ revamping into new wine bar alongside filipino plates. At other exit chef jojo says are plans to bring in, where the old fashion shops and local cheap cafe, a huge bar.