Meals at this restaurant go a long way toward
helping small farmers and needy communities

Farm-to-fork restaurants are fast becoming the norm in Metro Manila’s dining scene, but one establishment has advanced the concept further by creating ways to help less fortunate Filipinos build a better life for themselves.

Earth Kitchen, in White Plains, Quezon City and at Bonifacio Global City, is an offshoot of the Got Heart Foundation, which, says its website www.gotheartfoundation.org, is “a non-stock, non-profit organization, promoting the values of love and gratitude, which open possibilities for shared blessings that are used in creating real, lasting change among marginalized communities”.

It is also committed “to creating SHInDIG (Sustainable, Holistic, Independent and Dignified) communities and people in the country…developing and harnessing the potentials of people and communities in creating sustainable livelihood. To make the livelihood programs as sustainable as possible, Got Heart focuses on marketing the products that have come from the communities which were given technical assistance”.

Expanding to include a restaurant that showcases local produce, as well as the creativity of young chefs, was a logical step for social entrepreneur Melissa Yeung, Got Heart’s founder and driving force.

Chef J. R. Trani, who, with Chef David Hizon, was responsible for designing the menu, says Earth Kitchen spotlights the produce of 200 Got Heart partners in Tarlac, Tagaytay and Antipolo, among others. Its mission statement declares: “By increasing demand for organic and natural produce, we hope to sustain the livelihood of marginalized communities and encourage more farmers to produce good, clean, healthy food – without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and harmfulinputs like chemical urea, herbicides and pesticides”.

In addition, Earth Kitchen has been sending several young farmers to college where they are taking up courses in agriculture, food technology and education.

Trani reveals that most of the dishes served at Earth Kitchen are made from scratch, and that includes the pasta,ice cream, tortilla, risotto and soups. This is to ensure better quality and the chance to source more natural ingredients locally.

Dining at Earth Kitchen approximates a bucolic, countryside experience. The hanging ferns, wide windows and wooden furniture add to a greenhouse-like ambience that
makes customers want to linger. It is too bad Manila’s oppressive weather and pesky flies do not allow true alfresco seating. If not, the small outdoor enclosure at the back might have been perfect for those wanting a break from air conditioning.

There is much that is tantalizing in Earth Kitchen’s menu line-up, but being first timers, we let Chef Trani,who is half-Japanese, call the shots,and in the end, we were extremely happy that we did.

Here’s what we had, and would recommend that you try these dishes:

• Mushroom Spring Rolls – organic/naturally produced shiitake mushrooms, peanuts, herbs and greens, lime hoisin sauce

• Watermelon and Rocket Salad – organic/organically produced arugula, pili nuts, home-made kesong puti and balsamic vinaigrette

• Squid Ink and Aligue – local scallops, squid ink pasta, aligue, anise liquor and mild chilies
• Braised Pork Belly – cucumber, peanuts, cilantro, lime hoisin sauce

• Beef Kebab – boneless beef ribs, tzatziki, grilled vegetables, with a choice of organic Ifugao rice pilaf or three pieces of flour tortilla

• Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream – wild honey, dried figs and pili nuts

Before leaving Earth Kitchen, you may want to pick up some artisanal items (honey, soaps, etc.) at the Got Heart boutique in the dining area, or walk over to the adjoining hall to admire the
art work of local talents.

Opening hours are from 11.30 am to 9.30 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Whether ordering a meal or purchasing something handmade, you have helped someone – and that is what counts with the kind and passionate souls behind Earth Kitchen.