After building a career working for chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Joel Robuchon, Jennifer Carroll and Masa Takayama, Mike Collantes came home to Orlando, Fla., to build something of his own.
The new Taglish Collective, launched this year, is a growing restaurant group that began in late 2019 with a fast-casual Filipino-American outlet in a Korean grocery store called Taglish — a play on the blended languages of Tagalog and English to reflect the Filipino-American menu that includes burgers and tacos alongside sisig bowls and lumpia. Collantes, who is Filipino-American and originally from New Jersey though he grew up in Orlando, said there is growing interest in the hybrid cuisine he knew from his youth.
Just as Taglish got started, however, the pandemic hit. Because it was in a supermarket, Taglish was able to stay open, but the supermarket’s foot traffic suffered.
It was a rough year, but Collantes knew he had struck a chord, and not only within the Filipino community there. This spring, Taglish will open a second location outside the grocery store.
Meanwhile, a second concept also has a new home. During the pandemic Collantes began doing a fine-dining omakase pop-up he called Soseki. In March, the group opened a permanent location for Soseki, offering the option of a 90-minute or a 120-minute experience. Working with Collantes there is chef de cuisine Tadateru “C.J.” Tokudaiji, whose resume includes stints at Guy Savoy, Alinea, Restaurant Alain Ducasse and Café Boulud.
And, in partnership with a local bar that added a small kitchen, the collective also launched Perla’s Pizza, which has become a sensation in part for its banana-and-pepperoni combo, which is now a best seller.
Listen to Collantes’ story and his plans for growth.
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