Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan

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Country : Philippines

Restaurant : Purple Yam Manila & New York

Amy Besa and her husband, Chef Romy Dorotan, have been in the restaurant business in New York City for the past 20 years. They opened Cendrillon, a Filipino pan-Asian restaurant in SoHo in Manhattan in 1995 and closed it after 13 years and re-opened Purple Yam in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn in November 2009. Purple Yam Malate, their first branch in the Philippines, opened on July 4, 2014 in Amy’s childhood home in one of the oldest historical districts of Manila.

Amy and Chef Romy are co-authors of the award winning cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens (2006, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, NYC). The book received the Jane Grigson Award for distinguished scholarship and research and the quality of its writing by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in Chicago in 2007. A revised and updated edition of the book was released May 2012 with the last chapter revised to reflect the move from Cendrillon to Purple Yam and the authors’ purpose of showcasing Asian culinary values and re-discovering the Filipino palate.

Amy is the founder of the Ang Sariling Atin Culinary Heritage Institute (ASA) in the Philippines. The ASA has three primary goals: (1) to produce and publish a book on the Philippine palate based on scientific studies of the flavor regions of the Philippines; (2) build community kitchens to make healthy, nutritious and hygienic food available and accessible to poor communities in the Philippines and (3) to create livelihoods, impart skills and develop markets for artisanal products for the purpose of preserving our culinary heritage.

Recent activities:
October 6, 2015
, Galleon Trade themed dinner at Purple Yam Malate sponsored by La Camara, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

This dinner highlighted ingredients, dishes and cooking methods that have not been fully explored by historians and food writers in the past. Much has been written about what was brought over by Spain and Mexico to the Philippines, but not much about what went from Asia to the New World nor how the Filipinos indigenized flavors and cooking methods from Mexico, Spain and China.

September 3, 2015 – Cocktails and presentation of Filipino Food, hosted by the Philippine Embassy at The Hague

September 7 – 13, 2015 Guest Chef stint at De Karpendonkse Hoeve, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Purple Yam owners, Amy Besa and Chef Romy Dorotan, along with their team of young chefs from Purple Yam Malate, showcased Philippine artisanal ingredients and cooking innovative Filipino dishes at a Michelin Star restaurant, De Karpendonkse Hoeve in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Cendrillon Press
Cendrillon was highly covered by mainstream magazines and newspapers from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, regional newspapers in the Midwest and the South; magazines such as Vogue, Gourmet, Vanity Fair, Saveur, New York and Time Out New York. We were also featured in several TV news shows and cable stations.

But the 2-star review of Frank Bruni of the New York Times in 2005 is special to us.

Restaurant reviews and write-ups:

In 2005, New York Times Food Critic Frank Bruni awarded 2 stars to Cendrillon

Purple Yam (Brooklyn) Press

In 2010, New York Times Food Critic Sam Sifton awarded 1 star to Purple Yam

In Jun 2010, NYT Food Critic Sam Sifton names Purple Yam in his 50 favorite restaurants of the City in the Sifty Fifty

For two years in a row, (October 2010 and October 2011), Time Out NY names a dish of Purple Yam one of the best 100 dishes of NY (chicken adobo in 2010, the ukoy, a vegetable and shrimp fritter, in 2011)

October 19,2011, Sam Sifton, outgoing NYT restaurant critic sums up the highlights of his stint as critic and lists Purple Yam’s chicken adobo as one of his memorable meals

For more information about Purple Yam,

Purple Yam Facebook page has more media features of the restaurant

For more information on Ang Sariling Atin Culinary Heritage Insitute (ASA)


Wrote a piece on adobo for Saveur Magazine, December 2005 which was recently included in the best 100 recipes collected by the magazine.

Besa, Amy & Romy Dorotan, Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipes from Far and Near; New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang (Harry N Abrams Publishing), 2006 (first edition)

Besa, Amy & Romy Dorotan, Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipes from Far and Near; New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang (Harry N Abrams Publishing), 2012 (second edition)

“The Philippines,” by Amy Besa, pages 529 – 31, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, edited by Darra Goldstein, Oxford University Press, 2015

“Southeast Asia,” by Amy Besa, Savoring Gotham, edited by Andrew F. Smith, Oxford University Press, (to be released November 2015).

Presently working on concept and structure of proposed book on “Re-Imagining Philippine Food and Flavors”

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  • Memories of Philippine Kitchens (2006, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, NYC)

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