Eric of Eats by E
Eric realized he loved to cook at the age of 3. A Filipino American and an only child, he was drawn to the kitchen growing up. He cooked with both his Mom and Dad, learning two regional Filipino cuisines: the coconut and spice-driven food of where his Mom is from, and the more savory dishes from his Dad’s region. ⠀
But his food does not fall squarely into the category of Filipino. Eric owes the dynamic flavors of his meals to his summers spent in Oahu, Hawaii, where his Grandparents lived. Eric’s Grandpa migrated there from the Philippines when he was just 19, working in sugarcane fields to make a living, and later moved the rest of his family to the island. Although Eric grew up in the Bay Area, he spent every summer from the age of 3 to 18 was in Hawaii, swimming in the ocean, connecting with family, and cooking meals with his Grandparents. ⠀
With these deeply rooted influences guiding him, Eric started to develop his own culinary style. Although he loved cooking for family & friends, it wasn’t until 9 years ago that Eric formally entered the food space, running an Italian cafe in Emeryville and learning everything about the business along the way. Four years in, a customer at that cafe challenged him to start his own pop-up with his own food, and Eats by E was born. In this venture Eric shares the food he grew up eating but with his own unique style (with his parents occasionally taste-testing to make sure he has their approval). Business is booming, and Eric now hosts 2-3 events every week.
BAYDISH: Who taught you how to cook?
ERIC: I initially learned how to cook from my grandparents and parents. I also have SPAM and Top Ramen to thank as those were the first things I learned how to cook.
BAYDISH: When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
ERIC: I decided to start cooking professionally about 5 years ago when a friend challenged me to host my first pop-up.
BAYDISH: How has your upbringing contributed to the food that you serve?
ERIC: My upbringing has played a huge part on the food that I serve. Almost all the dishes on our menus have been inspired by my family’s cooking or the food that I was introduced to during my childhood summers spent in Hawaii. At each of our pop-ups, I like to share a brief story about my culture, family, and how I learned how to cook. Each time I share this story it brings back fond memories of my late grandparents and some of my most memorable food experiences with my family.
BAYDISH: How do you want people to feel after eating your food?
ERIC: I want people to feel happy and full. It’s something that my mom always made sure of when we had friends or family visit, so we usually offer seconds to guests and occasionally food to take home with them.
BAYDISH: How has your food evolved over time?
ERIC: The presentation of our food has been one of the main things that evolved over time. Also, I constantly try to improve the balance of flavors in our menus and dishes.
BAYDISH: What are you most proud of?
ERIC: I’m most proud that I’ve received such great feedback/reviews from being able to share food that is inspired from family’s cooking and food memories from my childhood summers spent in Hawaii. I've also met some amazing people at our events.
BAYDISH: What can we expect next from Eats by E?
ERIC: We plan on releasing a couple new menus and also bringing our pop-up dinners to other cities. Baybingka, our brand of bibingka (Filipino coconut rice cake) will be launching soon.