Sisters steer Filipino comfort food vinta to Davao's culinary shores

IT RUNS in the blood. It took a good number of years before the woman who created the brands Golden Brown Specialties and Patok sa Manok finally saw her genetic "culinary" make-up will be inherited by, not one, but two of her daughters.

Sisters & partners Tisha & Pauline, built a home to honor & showcase their mother's recipes

For sisters Tisha Benedicto-Sebastian and Pauline Benedicto, their love for food started when they were kids. They saw their mom cook in the kitchen and remember how they love every bite of the food served on the family dining table. It was always heaven. "Our mom is the greatest chef in the world," declared the sisters in unison.

Now, it's their turn to run their own kitchen, the one of Rekado Filipino Comfort Cuisine. Rekado is a home built for the love of Filipino comfort food, "A tribute to our mother's cooking and a showcase of her recipes," said Tisha.

The young chef at Rekado's helm, Pauline Benedicto

It took five years of planning with late night discussions before Rekado finally materialized-the sisters were finally ready, Davao is ready. Both believed that the timing was perfect. With the blessing of their parents, Rekado was opened.

Creating a contemporary-designed home for modernized Filipino comfort cuisine

For a very young restaurant, Rekado has created waves that pulled in the food lovers of Davao. Maybe, it's the new modern building they came across while driving by Jacinto Extension or the one photo posted in the social media sites, the Boneless Crispy Pata, or both, that could be credited for luring in the lunch and dinner crowds into the vast dining hall of the new restaurant.

The first dish that made waves- Boneless Crispy Pata. It's one of the many bestsellets on the Rekado menu

Apparently, the new restaurant's wide in-door and al fresco dining areas are not big enough to hold the eager clientele that flock the restaurant. They have to turn down late diners with their house specialties running out early in the night. "I don't want to do it, but I want our customers to be able to enjoy the food they came to Rekado for. So I ask them to come back the next day," said Pauline.

How did this all start?

Tisha: We grew up to a restaurant business, we travel a lot and eat out a lot, and somehow mom's food always tasted better. The recipes she had, however, didn't fit the restaurants she ran, so we decided to create a special place where we can serve the delicious food.

Pauline: We grew up in a household that loves home-cooked meals. I must have inherited my love for cooking from my mother. I love to experiment on food.

I went to culinary school for Rekado, to become more knowledgeable. I wanted a formal training on food set-up and handling. I wanted to professionalize and upgrade my skills, and now I am here in Rekado's kitchen.

 Pauline with one of her mentors, Chef April

Why Filipino Comfort Food?

Tisha: Nothing can bring us back home or to the memories of home better than the food our mothers cooked for us. This is what brought us back to Davao, our mother's food, and we would like to share the cuisine we grew up with to the rest of the Dabawenyos.

Pauline: The memories of home-cooked food by our mothers always make me smile, and that's what it does to everyone all the time. That's what we want to share in Rekado.

What we did for Rekado is tweak the recipe a bit to intensify the flavors. It's modernizing mom's recipes, as I call it.

A must-try REKADO appetizer, Tokwa't Tenga.

Is this what Davao should expect from Rekado?

Pauline: Yes, I want them to discover the different flavor profiles of Rekado's food. You won't see it but you get to can taste it. The symphony of flavors is present. You will know that there are many "rekados" in it.

Tisha: We wanted to put Pinoy food on a platform, elevate it. We want it to be an experience whenever you eat our food. The touch is up-dated in many ways.

A twist on an old favorite, REKADO's flavorful take on the Molo Soup

And the modern building?

Pauline and Tisha: This is what we envisioned Rekado to be. This house, the restaurant, in modern design was built to pay tribute to Filipino Comfort Food, a cuisine that we modernized in a way. Both may be modern but we made sure it is bright, welcoming and comforting, just like any Filipino home we are invited to dine in.

REKADO's inteior may be modern but it is warm & welcoming, just like the food we cook

Why the "vinta" for the logo?

Pauline: The vinta is a representation of the spice ship that brought in the spices from abroad during the Spanish times. We used the vinta to make it very Mindanao, a touch of home. Our food is cooked with well chosen and fresh "rekados" or ingredients. The spices we use in our recipes are sourced out locally.

The vinta represents the spice ships that brought in the spices form abroad. "At REKADO we use the freshest spices to flavor the food," said the young chef, Pauline.

Did you expect this much crowd to patronize Rekado?

Pauline: Honestly, no. In fact, we were worried if we will get enough diners to fill up the big dining areas. I am happy that we were able to accommodate as many people as we can in the few days in the business, and happier seeing guests returning for three times already. Tisha and I cannot be thankful enough.

Chicharon at Kilawin Salad is freshness & health plated. The crunch of the fresh greens & vegetable cracklings makes a great contrast to the melt in your mouth fish kinilaw.

Rekado Filipino Comfort Food is located at 1050 Jacinto Extension, Barangay 11-B, Davao City. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information, call (082) 284-2136 or 0915-722-9299. You can also find them on, on Twitter: @RekadoDavao and Instagram with the handle @RekadoDavao

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 27, 2015.