Toyo Eatery chef Jordy Navarra puts a Pinoy spin on American fast-food faves in Shake Shack’s first-ever ‘chef collab‘ in Manila.
We are all familiar with the taste of burgers and fries and shakes, fast-food staples that have all carved a space in the heart of many a Pinoy. But have you ever wondered how these familiar snacks would taste if given a Filipino twist?
You need not wonder no more, even for a day, as beloved burger joint Shake Shack pairs up with acclaimed local restaurant Toyo Eatery for a one-day only salo-salo on Nov. 11 at Shake Shack Central Square BGC, from 9 am until supplies last.
A pairing to remember
In an interview with The Post during the collab’s media tasting on Nov. 7, chef Jordy Navarra, head chef and owner of Toyo Eatery, admits that he is a huge fan of Shake Shack, adding that it is top-of-mind for him when craving burgers and fries.
“I feel honored that I’m the first to do it,” Jordy says, adding that Shake Shack hopes it would be the first of many collaborations with local chefs. “It’s nice to think that the Filipino perspective is very relevant with brands like Shake Shack.”
“Doing a collab with them, for me, would be a fun way to explore that side of what we can do with Filipino ingredients and flavor profile,” he shares. “They gave us free reign to do whatever it is we wanted to explore.”
He’s also happy that he and his team at Toyo Eatery have been given the chance to share their creativity on a bigger platform and in a different way. “Like I mentioned, I’m a fan of the brand, we get to do our take on a Shake Shack burger,” he happily enthused.
In a separate interview, chef Mark Rosati, culinary director of Shake Shack Inc., shares how he has helped make possible all the chef collaborations in his 16 years with the popular global fast casual chain.
Shake Shack has collaborated with some of the most influential chefs in the world including Danny Yip of The Chairman (Hong Kong), Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den (Tokyo) and David Chang of Momofuku (New York). And now, Jordy Navarra.
When it comes to choosing the chef, he explains: “For the food to be excellent, we want to work with chefs that inspire us, with whom we share similar values, but the most important thing is personality. Having great food is a must, but first and foremost you have to be an incredible person with a great personality and a warm heart, that’s more important for us.”
And according to Mark, Jordy perfectly fits the bill. He shares how they have a lot of chef-friends in common, who only have high praises about the Filipino chef’s talent and personality. “When I came here and finally ate at Toyo, I said, ‘It has to be chef Jordy,’” he adds with a smile.
Shake Shack x Toyo Eatery share values
“We at Shake Shack go through great lengths to find the best-quality ingredients we can to serve something very simple and humble,” Mark explains. “Our food is all about bringing people together.”
He believes that Toyo Eatery is similar in these aspects. “They’re all about the ingredients, where they source it from, and also go really deep into Filipino cooking and heritage. He’ll (Jordy) find these old recipes and find different ways of doing modern spins on them. To us that’s really exciting.”
Mark says that Shake Shack loves people like Jordy who are “super passionate,” sharing that the collaboration taught him “so much” about Filipino cooking. “That’s where the fun is—understanding each other’s foods. That’s where we share a very similar dialogue.”
Echoing what Jordy says about being given “free reign” when it comes to conceptualizing and curating the menu, Mark says that he told his Filipino counterpart that, “There are no guidelines—just dream.”
Celebrating Filipino flavors
Toyo Eatery is known for its deep understanding of and passion for Filipino cuisine. Over the years, it has cemented its place among Asia’s best restaurants, backed by Jordy’s playful and inventive takes on classic Filipino dishes.
This love for Filipino culture coupled with Shake Shack’s much-loved menu make for a collab to remember, one that particularly shines the spotlight on the richness and nuances of Pinoy flavors.
For the main dish, we had Chick ‘n Cheek BBQ (P595), which features an all-natural, cage-free crispy chicken thigh, hand breaded and enveloped in Panaderya Toyo’s sourdough batter, topped with Toyo Eatery’s pork jowl, BBQ sauce, and a medley of atsarang papaya, red onions, burong mangga, cucumber, and aruy-uy, all sandwiched in a non-GMO potato bun. The pork jowl is from antibiotic- and hormone-free black pigs pasture-raised on a farm in Batangas.
Of this dish, Jordy explains he wanted to experiment with chicken as well as five different kinds of buro and atsara. “We ended up playing around with the chicken and added pork because there’s no pork in their menu,” he adds.
And his ingenuity pays off, with a most interesting play on flavors and textures: from the satisfying umami and smokiness of the pork cheek to the comforting familiarity of the deep-fried chicken filet, the unmistakable crunch of the sourdough batter to the varying sourness of the different pickled and fermented garnishing.
On the side is the sensational Inasal Fries (P325), featuring Shake Shack’s signature crinkle-cut fries dressed in Toyo Eatery’s oh-so-good inasal mayonnaise, topped with garlic chips, and served with fresh calamansi and vinegar chili dip. Creamy, mildly tart, and mind-blowing in its deliciousness, the inasal mayo is made in-house and from scratch.
Chili vinegar and calamansi on your french fries? Isn’t that sacrilege? That’s what I first thought, but a drizzle of the calamansi and a dip in the vinegar proved me utterly wrong. This dish is a perfect example of chef Jordy’s genius—putting together ingredients that might seem off-putting when taken as one dish, only to leave you fascinated that some things that shouldn’t work could not just work but work like magic.
The Inasal Fries also happens to be Mark’s favorite. “They’re wonderful by themselves, the fries and the inasal mayonnaise, but throw in a little bit of the calamansi, even better; now, put the calamansi and the chili vinegar—oh my god! I could eat it every day. So delicious,” he enthuses.
Complementing the Chick ‘n Cheek BBQ and Inasal Fries is the delightful concoction that is the Rosella at Lambanog Lemonade (P275), a Shack-made lemonade with Toyo Eatery’s rosella syrup, spiked with tagay portions of lambanog or coconut liquor.
Made in-house with real cane sugar, this is the first-ever boozy lemonade in Shake Shack Philippines, and features lambanog, a popular Filipino alcoholic drink of distilled fermented coconut sap.
Capping off the special menu is Tsokolate at Tostadong Bigas Concrete (P355), frozen chocolate custard blended with Toyo Eatery’s classic toasted rice pudding, candied Palawan cashews, and candied cacao nibs.
The frozen custard is made with real cane sugar, cage-free eggs, and milk from dairy farmers who pledged never to use artificial growth hormones, while the toasted rice is made with local organic black rice from Capas, Tarlac. This dessert has just the right sweetness; it made me want to have one more helping!
Among the world’s best
The Shake Shack x Toyo Eatery limited collaboration puts chef Jordy in the company of other culinary giants. As a nod to its fine dining roots, Shake Shack has collaborated with some of the most influential chefs in the world including Danny Yip of The Chairman (Hong Kong), Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den (Tokyo), David Chang of Momofuku (New York), Kang Mingoo of Mingles (Seoul), and Dominique Ansel (New York).
“Toyo Eatery is not merely a place to eat, it is a celebration of Filipino cuisine, culture, and the art of storytelling through food where tradition meets innovation,” says Mark. “Chef Jordy’s passion and creativity in reimagining Filipino cuisine while staying true to its roots is nothing short of remarkable, every dish is a testament to his culinary vision and deep understanding of flavors and ingredients.”
For Jordy, meanwhile, getting to work with a brand like Shake Shack gave him and his team the chance not only to have fun with flavors, but also to learn how to execute a culinary event on a larger scale. “And I guess using a different medium for the products we usually use; it’s a new application of ideas,” he adds.
“Our team really enjoyed figuring out how best to incorporate our flavors into Shake Shack’s,” Jordy shares. “That’s why I enjoy doing all the collaborations, the events, because there’s always something to learn, always something new that’s different from what I do every day.”
Asked how he wants customers to feel after having a taste of the Shake Shack x Toyo Eatery collab menu, the towering yet soft-spoken chef has this to say: “Sana you feel something familiar but also something different and new. Hopefully, you leave with a perspective on the possibilities of what you can do with local products and local flavor profiles.”