Adrian Briones works in digital advertising as an operations manager. By night, he's a passionate food blogger (check out his conquests at Food Rehab), trying to cope with the demands of a gastronomical addiction.
April Smallwood

8 Mar 2011 - 11:37 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Adrian Briones works in digital advertising as an operations manager. By night, he's a passionate food blogger (check out his conquests at Food Rehab), trying to cope with the demands of a gastronomical addiction.

We chat to Adrian about Filipino cuisine, what he's learnt about food from his mum, and eating one's way through Melbourne – one breakfast at a time.

You work full time and have a very comprehensive food website. How do you find the time to maintain it?
Like most hobbies, blogging is an obsession and allows me to express myself creatively. Being self-hosted, I’m usually found banging away at the keyboard during the late hours of the night and, at times, to the early hours of the morning editing photos, rewriting drafts, Search Engine Optimisation, updating site code and researching, amongst other things. However, joining Twitter conversations, feasting with and learning from fellow foodies, commenting on posts and catching up on my RSS reader filled with inspiring stories and delicious photos – almost always leading to a midnight snack – makes it all worthwhile.

Can you recall which specific meal forced you into food rehab?
During a holiday in Boracay, Philippines, my friends and I shared a large bowl of pork sinigang (boiled pork with tamarind broth) on the beach. My social grace went right out the window as I moaned and groaned in what looked like a re-enactment of that infamous scene from the film When Harry Met Sally. Let’s just say that my friends had to forcefully take my plate away! The meal forced me into food rehab as we needed to order another bowl due to the fact that I ended up eating most of it, including the desserts that followed. When it comes to spectacular food, I have no shame.

Explain what you love about food.
Food is universal. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from – it can bring an instant commonality between complete strangers and strike a friendly conversation. In my experience, it can also spark into lifetime friendships. Food also has a significant impact on our community by helping to form charitable causes such as St Mary’s House of Welcome, which makes 5,000 meals a month for the hungry.

What are your thoughts on the current food-obsessed culture in Oz?
I’m all for it. The trend towards healthy but tasty and unprocessed food is good to see, especially on popular cooking shows and documentaries. The love of good food is so ingrained into our culture – there’s so much more to taste and discover. Personally, it can be anything from hunting for the best ramen in Melbourne to within my workplace, where I recently hosted an International Platter Feast, where everyone made a dish from their own heritage. The event brought everyone together and provided an opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures.  Let me just say that there was enough food that day to feed a small country.

For someone who’s not familiar with it, describe what makes Melbourne’s food scene and culture so unique.
The many multicultural festivals and hubs. On Sydney Road, you can find the some of the best baklava. On the other side of town in Footscray, you can find comfort in a bowl of pho, crusty banh mi rolls, hot jam doughnuts, and make use of your hands at the cutlery-free African eateries where you scoop up tasty stews with injera flat bread.

That’s what Melbourne’s about – you can experience the best food our city has to offer without having to spend the big bucks. I think what truly makes the Melbourne food scene so unique is that you really do have to rely on your inner circle for solid suggestions, due to the fact that some of the amazing places to eat at are hidden in some random laneway in the CBD with no obvious signage, not to mention our awesome rooftop bars and restaurants. Alternatively, there are some great mobile apps and blogs that can lead you to the latest talk of the town.

When dining with a Filipino family, what are the top three dishes one must try?
Chicken adobo is an addictive native dish made with soy, garlic, vinegar, onion and bay leaves. The base should be quite soupy so you can douse it over hot steamed rice. The chicken skin must be left intact – don’t be a chicken skin stripper! If made right, it should be salty, slightly sweet and sticky in texture. You know it’s good when you find yourself licking your lips.

Chicken tinola is a Filipino version of chicken soup and the ultimate comfort meal during winter. A sure fire dish to lift the mood.

Lechon is whole roasted pig. You know you’ve arrived at a Filipino party when there is lechon. Usually the life of the party, you will often see swarms of people gathering around it yelling 'Get the skin, get the skin!".

What are the essential ingredients needed to cook Filipino food?
The must-have ingredients are garlic, cornflour, soy sauce, tamarind, onions and ginger.

Would you say your relationship with food has been influenced by your family?
I’ve learnt so much about cooking from my mum to this present day. When I was growing up, she taught me how to really appreciate food. She rules the kitchen, full stop. My brother and I keep encouraging her to open up a restaurant but she insists that she only cooks for those she dearly loves. I may be biased, but I think my mum’s Filipino cooking is without a doubt the best I’ve ever had. Many friends can attest to that. If she’s not in the kitchen, she’s tending to her garden where she’s starting a vegetable patch. Mum is truly an inspiration.

What would your ultimate Sunday morning breakfast consist of?
At home, it would consist of baked pandesal (Filipino sweet bread rolls) lathered in ridiculous amounts of butter, bacon and eggs. When eating out, I would generally order smoked salmon and poached eggs on toast with a side of avocado with lemon. Each month, I conduct my Breakfast Indigestion series, which involves eating my way through a ridiculous amount of cafes on the hunt for the best breakfast over a two-day period. Friends think I’m nuts for doing so. On weekends, you could say that breakfast has become the new dinner.

What was your greatest dining experience of 2010?
Breakfast at Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan. You need to arrive mighty early; otherwise, you’ll be faced with an average three-hour wait. The sushi and sashimi are so fresh they taste like the ocean, and they’re all prepared in front of you. A few of the items, like the clam sushi, were still alive! I will never forget the sensation of it moving in my mouth and my friend’s face turning blue which makes this meal so memorable. Not for the faint hearted.

Do you have any food resolutions for 2011?
To eat more.

Is there anything else you wish to share with your fellow foodies?
Keep eating and keep inspiring others with your delicious creations. Don’t forget to send some my way, though! You can follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with my latest Filipino recipes and breakfast-hunting expeditions.